It’s time to go clubbing.

Author: Rob Ackers

Moving on from “the Balcony and the Dancefloor”.
It’s time to go clubbing.

Back in 1994, Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky in their work Adaptive Leadership developed the concept of the “balcony and the dancefloor”.

Its important, for us as Leaders, to head to the balcony when we need perspective and to take a step back – particularly when change is involved. Leaders who spend too much time downstairs – in Command-and-Control mode and doing rather than delegating – can often miss many of the challenges that they are facing. That being said, it is important to spend time on both - otherwise you might find yourself upstairs listening to Mozart’s String Quartet No. 1 and lose touch with the people on the dancefloor - who are far more likely to be tuned in to the Sex Pistols.

When I’m thinking about Senior Leaders – especially those who lead organizations of made up of multiple teams or departments - rather than the balcony and the dancefloor, which sounds like a very grand affair, I’m in one of those multi-room Ibiza Superclubs. Think Pete Tong, Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold. You get the picture. Now, imagine three rooms in a row, each opening up directly onto the next, connected by a balcony above them. Think of each of those rooms as a part of your business. For the sake of simplicity, let’s put our Sales department in the middle with Marketing and Customer Service on each end.

As anyone has been to one of these clubs can tell you, the transition between rooms can often lead to some rather interesting sonic combinations. If our Customer Service team are dancing to ABBA, Sales to Snoop Dogg and Marketing to Armand van Helden (sorry if I am showing my age) then the lines between them are not going to be pleasant. Looking down from balcony above, you can see how everyone is dancing to different tunes and the likelihood of injury at the borders is severe.

So, you how do you solve the cacophony of noise and tangle of limbs that this creates? There are two ways of doing it:
  1. Build some siloes. Stick a load of sound proofing and a corridor in the middle. Everyone doing their own thing, blissfully ignorant of what’s going on next to them. Apart from you that is, up on the balcony, who can see the lack of connection between them.
    1. Marketing on one end, doing what they think is great but can’t hear the voice of the customer
    2. Sales in the middle, with no idea what Marketing have said to their customers or what existing customers’ long-term feedback is
    3. Customer Service up the other end, not hearing the opportunity to educate when they talk to your existing customers and not knowing what Sales have promised to deliver
  2. Use your position on the balcony to keep the rooms together. Get beat matching and help the DJs across the 3 rooms to build a set list of tunes that work together rather than clash.
    1. All three sections start dancing to the same rhythm. The tangle of limbs at the edges become a point of handover from one room to the next
    2. Sales and Customer Services interactions with the customer spread across the floor and start to feed into marketing
    3. Marketing, now hearing the voice of the customer, use the information to create meaningful insights that mean something to the customer and then send them back the other way.

Take another look down from the balcony – now you start to see a single connected dancefloor – not all doing the same thing – but with a smooth flow and a consistent beat.

Now, let’s step outside the building for a moment. Take the perspective of a customer who is standing looking at two nightclubs, deciding which queue they should get in.

Option 1 – the sound from inside is muted, smothered by the corridors and sound proofing. It sounds OK but there’s a different noise coming from across the street…

Option 2 – there is one beat, ringing like Tommy Lee’s double kick drums. The feet of the dancers are pounding the floor and you can feel the rhythm and the bass through the pavement.

I know which I’m going into. But so many businesses seem to have ended up with the first option.

Creating a common rhythm across your business makes you hear things differently. It enables you to activate the information coming into your business and use it to create genuine insights for the customer, which generate actionable leads. It then enables you to sell to those leads with a Buyer’s Perspective and once you’ve done that, it enables you to retain them.

So, if you want some help making your business less Hippodrome, Colchester and more Pascha, Ibiza then do reach out to us. We’ve helped many businesses get their different departments dancing to the same tune and so far, we’ve not had a single broken limb along the way.

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