At INVIGOREN we cherish feedback and an article or a blog is one of the best tools to generate thought, gain consensus, and most importantly encourage productive dissent.  All too often the "manager in us" is fearful of dissent, especially if we lead with authority,  Yet if we lead with knowledge and lessons, we can encourage productive dissent which can be productive feedback and result in new thought.


In my initial blog entry, I discussed the process of attempting to integrate oneself to a new company.  I used the metaphor of trying to leap onto a horse of a moving carousel at a carnival to relate the complexity and degree of difficulty involved.  As difficult as that visualization appears, it is far more appealing than some of my own early personal experiences in joining companies, which could be easily described as jumping onto the nose of a speeding freight train.

To create a more graceful and productive transition, I suggested a three-point framework of roles or missions that are easy to remember, simple to execute, and easy to visualize.  If one diligently assumes the roles of  “The Advocate of the Customer”, The Guardian of Franchise (or Brand), and The Catalyst of Change I cannot guarantee success, but I can promise you will learn more and have more fun.

Advocate of the Customer:

Assuming the role of advocate involves basic but thorough marketing, with a dash of evangelism.  The groundwork of researching, understanding, and documenting the Customers’ needs, desires motivations, and constraints creates the first dataset.  The next stage involves the Customer’s alternatives in relation to competitive products, features, convenience, reputation, and price.  A quantitative understanding of the elasticities, the value equations, and relationships involved is the first step for advocacy.  When you are prepared to relate the attributes and benefits of a product and/or service, the emotions or rationale that attracts or detracts Customers from purchase, what price is too much to pay, and what is the cost of not owning, while contrasting your solution against theirs (the competition), you are ready to mount your soapbox.  A true advocate is able to empathize with the most important needs of the Customer, see the marketplace from their point of view, and disseminate these critical points of data in a meaningful way throughout the organization.

Guardian of the Franchise (Brand):

The first responsibility of this role is to guard and protect the capabilities, features, services, and assets of a brand or franchise, which are valued by the Customer and are a point of competitive differentiation.  In a nutshell, it is ensuring that the main thing, remains the main thing.  It is far too easy to become complacent at what one does well, so it is imperative that an initiative refines and enhances the required core competencies of the organization.

The second focus is to recognize and protect the greatest assets of the organization which are its people and values.  You must be prepared to mentor, coach, and serve all levels of the organization as your equal at a minimum, and at your best as a servant. There is a clear distinction between leading and enabling, and ideally you should only lead in a crisis.  If people are temporarily lost, resist leading and start coaching and asking questions that build confidence and lead people to solutions.

The last aspect of the guardian involves abdicating resources or acquired capabilities that have little value for the Customer.  When joining an organization, it is not uncommon to find a competency, which is not a part of the Customer’s value equation.  Possibly the needs of the Customer shifted, and the organization failed to notice the change.  Equally as likely, one might discover that a competency was built based on the ego, whim, or perceived need of management.  While the organization proudly maintains this asset, it is somewhat of a bell or whistle for the Customer.  Such unvalued competencies should be abdicated, and the supporting resources and assets should either be reassigned to endeavors that create value, or taken to the bottom line.

Catalyst for Change:

When one has a full and proactive understanding of the Customer and the competition, organizational awareness and creditability within the organization as a result of being the Customers’ advocate, and an accurate inventory of the franchise’s core competencies, he or she is uniquely positioned to direct quick and rapid change for the benefit of all stakeholders.

If one does not have a thorough understanding of what the Customer needs and desires, in relation to your Company’s offerings and your competitors’ offering, the marketplace can appear chaotic.  If you do have a solid grasp of the variables at play, change in the marketplace can be assumed to be natural and unavoidable.

However, there is nothing natural about it.  Market change is being driven by individual champions, leaps in technology, disruptions in supply or by cultures that have a process of continuous innovation.  Conversely, change in many companies is unnatural.  Change must be continuously catalyzed.  Change must be fact based and measured .  Theories need to be tested, and calculated risks taken.  Change based on the Customer needs and the competition is a work of art, while change for the sake of change is wasted calories.

Yet we cannot discuss change without discussing the fact that change requires navigation, measurement and metrics. Whoever coined the phrase “Inspect what you expect” understood both psychology and physics.

People (especially myself) are easily distracted, so there is a natural tendency for a strategic initiative or even a simple change to be overshadowed by more recent tactical initiatives or a simple distraction.  It is very difficult to make progress on any task or project started on Monday, as you faced a dozen of new problems on Tuesday.  Creating a discipline of regular inspection and communications will ensure that people stay focused on what is important and expected.

The use of visible and quantifiable metrics will ensure that all involved understand the definition of progress, how it will be evaluated, and what it will look like.  In addition, with clear metrics everyone will be able to observe the rate of change, or the inertia of the endeavor, which is key to the targeted timeline and the intended outcome.

While there is an assumption that metrics will keep you out of trouble by recognizing poor performance quickly, the greatest benefit of metrics in change management is to use them to compliment and congratulate people’s efforts.  Metrics should be used as a scoreboard that communicates your team’s progress!

Try to remember that the most meaningful encouragement for change is through the power of example, and champions must take the lead in changing themselves.

All in a Good Day’s Work:

At least for me, it is good day when I am able to assume these three roles, or better yet, find others who have assumed these three roles during my workday.  It suggests that we are not only focused on the Customer and on execution (Strategy x Execution = Outcome), but that we are also focused on the capability to create a sustainable competitive advantage of continuous innovation.

That is a good day’s work.

So whether you are joining a new company, retooling an old one, or just providing a template for all to encourage change, championing these three roles can help you and your team arrive at your intended destination with your Customer satisfied and your stakeholders impressed.

© Robert S. Islinger 2012 found on Invigoren LLC; Advocate of the Customer, Guardian of the Franchise, And Catalyst for Change. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert S. Islinger and Invigoren LLC; Advocate of the Customer, Guardian of the Franchise, Catalyst for Change, Manager of Metrics with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.











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A word from Bob Islinger, CEO

All of our resources are operators with common experiences, shared values, and a

singular mission.  We strive to be the Advocate for the Customer, the Guardian of the

Brand/Franchise, and the Catalyst for Change.


In-vig-or-en:  from the Latin vigēre, to be vigorus, energize, forceful with energy

and purpose; to make strong and resilient.

Copyright 2012 INVIGOREN LLC

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