As we head into the middle of September, as many people are reaching towards the back of their wardrobes to find their winter jumpers as are looking for their shorts and t-shirts. Whether you are revelling in the thought that summer is coming, or despairing at the reality of short days and long nights, the month of September is an annual signal of impending change.

Whilst most human beings see the 1st January as their annual calendar moment to make commitments (often hollow!), there is no reason why we should not consider doing so more often – make commitments that is (and not hollow ones either!). As the seasons change, and the natural world around us transforms, it is the perfect opportunity for us to take stock of progress and determine future direction.

Last week, I was fortunate (as I always consider myself) to be part of meetings with two clients in two completely different industries. Although the titles of the meetings differed, they were both essentially ‘Customer Experience (CX) Working Groups’ – collaborative, cross functional teams, brought together to drive their respective organisations approaches to CX. In both cases, these working groups form a vital part of wider governance frameworks, defining and embedding the sustainable focus on CX.

Bringing people together for meetings like this in the UK, after a long, hot/warm, mostly dry (unusually) summer, does not come without its risks. With the memories of summer escapades still fresh in the mind, and many returning to overflowing email inboxes, the thought of having to spend a day in a room with other colleagues updating on activities that may or may not have been given any attention in recent memory, is not particularly appealing!

However, what I witnessed was really very different. If the people I observed were concerned about their workload, they did not make it apparent. If they would rather have been somewhere else, they hid it well. What I saw were people from two companies who shared a common desire – a common desire to make change happen – to influence change – to enable change – to be the change. What I observed, were a lot of committed, passionate business people who were willing to TAKE OWNERSHIP – a real key to the success of any approach to CX.

In one of the two companies, I listened to a presentation on the subject of TAKING OWNERSHIP – it inspired me to write this post. Like so many things, the concept is so very simple, yet too often we fail to see it being applied in a business environment. Taking ownership is something this particular company is trying to embed into the mind-set of its people. Darren, the chap who delivered the presentation, started by describing a definition of ‘ownership’:

Ownership means you take pride in what you deliver. Ownership means you care about the success of the project. You’re not just clocking in and collecting a pay cheque… you’re taking responsibility and placing value in the quality of your work

This is so easy to understand – but if you look at yourself in the mirror, is that the kind of person you actually see? To be a sustainably customer centric organisation, it is essential that your people live and breath the sentiment of this definition. However, Darren continued to explain the dilemma for most employees – what he called the employee crossroad:

Do you recognise with these two scenarios? Which direction are you currently going in? If you or any of your colleagues are going to be part of a successful organisation, working with well motivated, passionate, driven people, all striving for a collective goal, there is only one route to take.

Accountability is something assigned or given.
Ownership isn’t assigned or given. Ownership is taken.

Too often I am told that things are ‘not possible’, or just cannot be done. My standard response is always one word….. why? As the great Nelson Mandela once said, ‘nothing is impossible until its done’. Change is difficult. Transformation is tough. Neither are impossible. To become a sustainably customer centric business, you require both – not now; not for the next twelve months; not for the next five years. You will need to accept that you will be dealing with both change AND transformation FOREVER. It is not impossible, but to succeed and strive in an ever changing environment, we all need to take ownership of the things that need to change – attitudes, beliefs, processes, products, environments – everything!

So as the seasons change again, ask yourself this – when it comes to Customer Experience transformation in your organisation, what are you taking ownership of right now?