Culture of Experts

Module #4


Let’s start this module with a quick review:

√ Within every organization, there is operational company-processes, which employees follow as a requirement or recommendation.

√ Some positions require a worker to work beyond the scope of an operational company-process and work independently within an individual work-process; which looks like this:

1) Foster curiosity
2) Initiate activity
3) Gain relevant information
4) Discover possibilities
5) Strategize
6) Commit to a project
7) Create ideas
8) Realize ideas
9) Test ideas, find success or failure
10) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
11) Repeat part or all of the process
12) Eventually, find achievement
Bonus – Ultimately, gain some level of mastery

√ In addition, there is an individual work-journey, which can be called the work-process in motion; within real-world situations. Being the chemistry between the worker and the work, the work-journey plays a large roll in job satisfaction.

√ The Expert-Trek is an extension of the work-process and work-journey. It is the long-term commitment to achieve some level of mastery within a chosen circumference of expertise.

In this module, we look at where the lines are drawn between operational company-process and individual work-process; and ask the question:

If an Unconventional Expert has an individual work-process that leads them to achievement,
can parts of this process be adopted as company-process to help other employees reach achievement?

Fully understanding the Unconventional Expert individual work-process can be helpful in developing operational company-process within an organization.
• Understand the work-process of Unconventional Experts to better manage them within a Culture of Experts.
• Look at various company-processes and understand where the lines are drawn between work-process and company-process.
• Look for opportunities within the individual work-process, where the process can be replicated into company-process.
• Make company-process more complex, but still teachable, for workers who can be properly trained.

In module #1, we separated all positions within an organization and put them in four groups. For partial review, group #1 and group #4 are shown below:

Group #1 – Unskilled-to-midskilled (non-expert) positions:
non-expert positions:
• Structured
• Repetitive
• Task-oriented
• Process-driven
• Unskilled-to-mid-skilled
Within this group, the company generally creates a company-process that must be followed by employees. In ISO 9000 manufacturing environments, parts of the process are standardized through a third-party organization.

Group #4 – unconventional positions:
• Unstructured
• Complex
• Creativity-driven
• Strategy-dependent
• Project-oriented
For these positions, we promoted the benefits of Unconventional Experts, as they face challenges with a complex individual work-process and work-journey.

It is common practice for organizations to take an individual work-process, that varies from worker to worker, and package it into a single company-process, so that there is unification across an entire team. This is typically done within call centers, where a script is created, to be shared by all of the individuals working on the call campaign. Sales departments have done this in a more complex fashion; where the call is not scripted, however, specific statements or questions are required within customer conversations. To the extreme, there are organizations that have standardized on a single sales presentation; solidified into a start-to-finish script.

Process-Replication in practice

The CEO of a large trash disposal company decided to transform their sales department by implementing a single sales presentation, committed to script. The entire national sales team was required to repeat the full script for all customer-facing sales presentations. This script included a large number of questions as well as a Y-junction at the latter part of the presentation. This Y-junction prompts the salesperson to take the customer down one of two paths, dependent on their answers to the questions. One path meets the needs of service-driven customers, the other path meets the needs of environmentally conscious customers. Each of these paths coordinated with parts the company’s marketing objectives.

This undertaking was so massive, it included a third-party consulting firm. At a cost, into the millions of dollars, they developed the program, deployed it through both the sales and marketing departments and trained hundreds of salespeople. The salespeople were also required to become certified, through a company-process, that tested their memorization of the script and competency with its use, to close a sale.

At first glance, one might think that this company unified the sales presentation to compensate for poor salespeople. On the contrary, they had a staff of highly skilled salespeople and continued to hire at a high level. They simply used the scripted presentation as a foundation for their sales model and used the professionalism of their sales people to properly implement it. 

With process-replication, the company was better able to marry its sales department with its marketing department. The scripted sales presentation followed the company’s marketing strategies, which helped customers better understand the advantages and benefits of their services.

In addition to the above, there were other advantages to this program:
• A higher number of salespeople were able to be trained at once.
• Training was very specific, following a single script.
• Employees were able to role-play with one another to perfect the presentation.
• New employees advanced rapidly, without being overwhelmed.
• Sales managers were able to monitor progress with improved consistency.
• Once the script was memorized, salespeople were able to focus on less tangible parts of the sale.

In practice, the above program was successful and both sales numbers and profit margins increased considerably.

Mothers are the world’s most prolific Unconventional Experts.
Structuring the unstructured and instilling process is what mothers do best.

If an unconventional position is held by someone who prefers structured and repetitive work within a task-oriented and company-process-driven environment; there will be an inherent effort to simplify the complex and structure the unstructured. This effort will be for the sole purpose of making the position more adaptable to the skills and abilities of the person who fills it. There is no benefit to the company in any way. Within a Culture of Experts, process should only be simplified and structured within a strategy.

A better way to look at shortcomings
If a position is 100% company-process-driven and the employee who fills the position is capable of fulfilling the demands, everything should run smoothly. If the position is less than 100% company-process-driven, shortcomings can result from one of two situations:

1) There is a void in company-process where there should be company-process and the company is relying on its employee to fill this void. If the employee is not able to compensate for this void, there will be a break in the process with unsatisfactory results. The solution is fairly simple; create company-process to fill the void and make certain the employee can meet the demands.

2) The position requires unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent, project-oriented work, however, these demands have not been properly recognized or addressed. If the employee who fills this position does not have an appropriate individual work-process, the results will be unsatisfactory.

When unsatisfactory results are analyzed, here are some questions that can be asked:
Did the shortcoming happen within the operational company-process or an individual work-process?
Is there an opportunity to create or improve a company-process to help matters?
Did an employee fall short within a company-process? If so, what company-process? Why?
Did an employee fall short within their individual work-process? If so, what part of the process? If there was failure, was it a part of the process?
          1) Foster curiosity
          2) Initiate activity
          3) Gain relevant information
          4) Discover possibilities
          5) Strategize
          6) Commit to a project
          7) Create ideas
          8) Realize ideas
          9) Test ideas, find success or failure
          10) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
          11) Repeat part or all of the process
          12) Eventually, find achievement
          Bonus – Ultimately, gain some level of mastery
Were attributes of unconventional positions stressed?
          • Unstructured – is there a need for more structure?
          • Complex – is there a need to simplify?
          • Creativity-driven – are the demands for creativity too open or undefined?
          • Strategy-dependent – is there a lack of guidance or options?
          • Project-oriented – is there a lack of vision, to outline a project?
What can the company do to help the employee better perform?

The missed call

A small company was trying to win business from a large company. A very important person from the large company called into the sales department of the small company, asking for their sales contact. The call came into the wrong department and the person who answered the phone forwarded the caller to the correct contact.

Soon after, management discovered that this potentially important call came into the company, however, was not received by the correct contact; not even a voicemail. A lengthy director-level investigation followed, focusing on the path of the call, who received it and how it was forwarded. In the pursuit of a new client, the sole focus was on a rudimentary company-process that was performed consistently. With regards to the sales process, proper questions were not asked and greater shortcomings went unnoticed.

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When you can’t give something away

It might be fun to look at a more traditional sales and marketing program, where the two departments were disconnected.

A small technology manufacturer had surplus inventory of old legacy computer hardware products. Leadership decided to have the marketing department develop a sales campaign that would allow salespeople to give away these products through a call campaign.

The sales call campaign looked like this: The sales team was given a lead list of potential customers. They were to call and promote the company, technology and product offerings. At the end of the call, they were to offer the potential customer a free product package. The package would include one of the old legacy products, a T-shirt and a pen. The T-shirt and pen, of course, would bear the company logo.

In practice, the calls did not go well. The potential customers did not want the old technology products; not even for free. They had no use for them and felt there might be an obligation, since the products were worth several hundreds of dollars when current. The sales department forwarded this information to the marketing department. The marketing department, however, ignored this feedback and directed the sales department to continue with the calls as originally planned. The salespeople were stuck with a high quantity of old inventory and it started to make them look bad. Salespeople are supposed to sell, and this team was not even able to give product away for free.

Within the sales team, an Unconventional Expert salesperson came up with an idea, which was shared and adopted by the other salespeople. The salespeople proceeded with the call-campaign, however, they inconspicuously adjusted the messaging. Within these calls, they offered the potential customers the free T-shirt and free pen, and made no mention of the legacy product; which would also be included within the package. Potential customers had no problem accepting this offer. The included product, no doubt, was perceived as a packaging error.

The old legacy inventory quickly depleted and none of the customers complained about their free gifts. The sales team went back to business-as-usual. There were no known sales garnished from this call campaign.

Corporate Culture Assessment Questions
Module #4 – Process-Replication

8) Does your company recognize and understand the divisions between operational company-process and individual work-process, within various positions?
9) Has your company considered strategies that develop individual work-process into operational company-process (or vice-versa)?

See all of the module assessment questions in module #11 

Culture of Experts Interview Questions
Module #4 – Process-Replication

9) Give a specific example within your career when you developed an individual work-process into a methodology or technique; then shared it with others? 

See all of the module interview questions in module #12

Culture of Experts is a free talent acquisition and employee development program created by Martin Haslinger. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Please proceed to module #5: Mentor/Protege Structure

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