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Management article
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Reference no. R0107G
Authors: M Sawhney
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2001

Abstract

To be more responsive to customers, companies often break down organizational walls between their units--setting up all manner of cross- business and cross-functional task forces and working groups and promoting a "one-company" culture. But such attempts can backfire by distracting business and functional units and by contaminating their strategies and processes. Fortunately, there's a better way, says the author. Rather than tear down organizational walls, a company can make them permeable to information. It can synchronize all its data on products, filtering the information through linked databases and applications and delivering it in a coordinated, meaningful form to customers. As a result, the organization can present a single, unified face to the customer--one that can change as market conditions warrant-- without imposing homogeneity on its people. Such synchronization can lead to stronger customer relationships, more sales, and greater operational efficiency as well as sustain product innovation--goals that have traditionally been difficult to achieve simultaneously.

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Abstract

To be more responsive to customers, companies often break down organizational walls between their units--setting up all manner of cross- business and cross-functional task forces and working groups and promoting a "one-company" culture. But such attempts can backfire by distracting business and functional units and by contaminating their strategies and processes. Fortunately, there's a better way, says the author. Rather than tear down organizational walls, a company can make them permeable to information. It can synchronize all its data on products, filtering the information through linked databases and applications and delivering it in a coordinated, meaningful form to customers. As a result, the organization can present a single, unified face to the customer--one that can change as market conditions warrant-- without imposing homogeneity on its people. Such synchronization can lead to stronger customer relationships, more sales, and greater operational efficiency as well as sustain product innovation--goals that have traditionally been difficult to achieve simultaneously.

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