CEO Blog



A change of view

Anne Marie Forsyth, CEO, CCA
23/11/2018

A couple of recent stats caught my eye in this month’s Business Life. The first is that 1 in 2 British employees admit they don’t actually know what AI is; the second that the tech sector is growing 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy. 

Like many stats, a danger lies in an isolated perspective; however taken together these two stats would appear to suggest that many people whose jobs and personal lives are being influenced by artificial intelligence (AI) don’t know about the opportunities and 
challenges, and that the pace of change may overtake our understanding.

Alongside these stats was an article by Tim Harford, author of the business book ‘Messy’ in which he describes how those who undertake learning and experiences unrelated and beyond the scope of their own roles, significantly enhance performance. An example is cited of eye surgeons in Philadelphia taking an appreciation of art course over three months, showed truly remarkable results in improvements in describing and diagnosing disease of the eye. 

We are familiar with cross-training in athletics but what about in our own roles? Walking in others’ shoes is often cited in a cliched way as getting experiences not otherwise understood. To truly get success from the concept in Messy
however, the lesson seems to be that the experience needs to open up new perspectives and allow the brain to relax from one activity and absorb learning from another, the opposite of multi-tasking in fact. A little like crop rotation in an agricultural example.

I found myself pondering how these concepts can be adopted in organisations in our network. The problem needing 
addressed is often rigid siloes, where a lack of understanding about pressures in one department leads to stagnation and frustration; the unintended consequences of process designs and structures which have ceased to serve the organisation well. 

Critically, to what extent could experience exchange in the same organisation 
actually provide those benefits of ‘crop rotation’? We often hear about examples of Board members handling customer enquiries and even complaints. These are essential but can be time-bound initiatives and not necessarily embedded in a board culture. They are a start but need to be augmented with other means of eliciting voice of customer

Encouragingly there are great examples of volunteering opportunities which introduce a new mindset in otherwise busy uniform time pressured roles. The areas of marketing and IT are ripe for cross-fertilisation with customer service operations, and there are some interesting examples of job rotations in these areas. 

At a strategic level, as organisations hone their plans for 2020 we have adapted CCA’s thought leadership programme for Platinum members to provide an ‘immersion’ into other organisations for a day, leaving aside the day job and understanding how leadership teams in different sectors are tackling challenges. Click here for details.

Also new for 2019 is the CCA Inspire programme aimed at broadening the experience of agents and team leaders beyond their own organisational learning. The goal is to build resilience and provide a wider knowledge of societal and customer insights, which will equip talented professionals to be more responsive and creative in their changing roles. Click here to find out more.

I’m sure we all have ideas about new experiences we need to undertake to refresh and enrich the mind - my ambition for the year ahead is to master a new language and try an art class - I have to warn those patient teachers of the challenge that awaits them!

Have a great weekend!

Anne Marie