In today’s new normal business environment, customer service is pivotal in project management ONLY if you want to ensure success. According to my firm’s recent research report, Amazon Effect, which covered the role of customer service for manufacturers and distributors, 67% feel customer service gaps vs. Amazon-like offerings. Technical skills alone will no longer be sufficient; project managers must create an environment of customer service to accelerate results.
For example, one of my clients has several projects going at the same time. One of them is crucial to bring staffing to the levels required to meet customer orders. They have found that if the folks on that project team are not feeling their importance to the company’s results and to their end customers, they perform their job; however, it is not enough! Progress is too slow. On the other hand, once they felt included in the process and a key part of customer service, results picked up. Do you want to leave your most important priorities to chance? Or would you rather create a customer service culture?
In the late 1970’s I worked on an assembly line at Burnham Corporation in Lancaster, PA. This was after I separated from a stint in the US Army and during my tenure pursuing a BS degree in Computer Science.
Believe it or not, I was a “Boiler Maker” at Burnham. I was a member of an assembly line that assembled boilers from parts manufactured in the plant.
I know what you’re thinking. At last, Bob has “lost it”. He’s regressed back to the early roots of his working career, which has nothing to do with his focus today. He’s now become an “old man” telling “old man stories”.
Well I will admit that I’m not as young as I used to be, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this job recently and the similarities or lessons there from an agile perspective. I hope I can connect the dots sufficiently for it to make sense to you too.
Being well rounded is foolish. Being sharp is significant. Being good at many things means you are great at nothing. Culture rewards remarkable. People pay for extraordinary. Best get sharp.
On a recent episode of the Dave Ramsey Entreleadership Podcast, best-selling author Markus Buckingham said: "Leaders are sharp. The best leaders aren’t well rounded. However, the teams they create are well rounded.” Profound.
As soon as I heard that, I had the mental image of the above colored pencils. In this image lies the recipe for an extraordinary strengths-based team. Each pencil is sharp, has it’s unique color, and among other sharp pencils creates well-rounded unity.
1) Sharp Strengths
It seems difficult to get sharp because there is so much asked of us today. As we bounce from task to task and project to project our sharp edges become well rounded. And it doesn’t help that we grew up in a culture and a school system that rewards well-roundedness instead of laser-like sharpness.