Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hail to the Chief!

From a press release of last week:
"Cleveland Clinic has named M. Bridget Duffy, M.D., Chief Experience Officer, a newly created role designed to ensure all aspects of the patient experience at Cleveland Clinic meet the highest standards.

'We recognize that delivering World Class healthcare requires a lot more than providing patients with access to leading-edge treatments and technologies,' said Delos M. 'Toby' Cosgrove, M.D., CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic. 'As a leading healthcare provider, we must exceed the expectations of those we serve, offering compassion, showing empathy and providing patients with the responsiveness they deserve. With her passion for patient-centered initiatives, Dr. Duffy is the ideal person to oversee the Clinic’s efforts to provide a world-class patient experience.'

As Chief Experience Officer, Dr. Duffy will advance Cleveland Clinic’s Patient First Initiative by creating a culture that addresses the emotional and physical experience for the patient, restores empathy as a core value and recognizes the central role that employees play in delivering an exceptional patient experience."
During May of 2005, I posted an article entitled "The Chief Experience Officer" in my blog, refering to Challis Hodge's 2001 description of the role ("...should ensure that an organization delivers the appropriate experience at every point of contact it makes with the public") and to Jeffrey Rayport's March 2005 related description and his recommendation that companies create the position:
"To ensure desirable customer experiences, companies must appoint dedicated chief experience officers. Call this individual the 'other' CEO—or, as we prefer, the CXO (not to be confused with the commonly used term that refers to any C-level executive)."
In an article published later that year, Bill Buxton argued for the need for a CDO:
"Is design leadership an executive level position? Do you have a Chief Design Officer reporting to the president? My view is that if you do not, you are not serious about design or innovation. Furthermore, you are telegraphing this fact to all of your employees, along with a clear message that they need not be either. As a result, you might as well fire all of your creative people, since you are setting them up to fail anyhow."
During 2006, James Gilmore and Joseph Pine of "The Experience Economy" fame chimed in with an article entitled, "Wanted: Chief eXperience Officers," and Bruce Temkin of Forrester Research began to advocate for a CC/EO -- a Chief Customer/Experience Officer. This year, additional advocates have surfaced (e.g., see "The New CEO -- Chief Experience Officer").

However, in the upcoming issue of interactions magazine, Jonathan Arnowitz writes:
"Tuesday's offerings (of CHI 2007) included a panel organized by Richard Anderson titled, 'Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?' Much to our surprise, the panelists all seemed to scoff at the idea Richard posed: the need for a chief design officer or chief user experience officer or an alternate C-level design presence. One commentator said, 'The last thing you want is the board dictating the colors or fonts or other designs.'"
Jonathan did not agree:
"The panelists here were completely off base. The chief design officer (CDO) concept is meant to avoid this very thing. A CDO should set the design strategy for the company and make sure it stays on course. Being a C-level officer, the CDO has enough clout to keep boardroom design from taking place."
Why did my panelists not like the idea?

Panelist Secil Watson, Sr. VP of Internet Channel Strategy at Wells Fargo, said:
"My one worry is that there are only so many things you can divide up in terms of accountability, so if you say you are the Chief Experience Officer, there is not much that you are accountable for yourself. ...that accountability truly lies across the organization."
Blogger Eric Mattson appears to agree with Secil, as suggested by his words of earlier in the year:
"Experiences are core to a multitude of management roles already in existence. The last thing you want to do is seperate responsibility for great experiences from marketing, customer service, sales, training and product development.

It's like hiring a chief ethics officer to make sure your organization is honest."
Two panelists argued that the role of the CXO (or CDO or CC/EO) should be played by the CEO (i.e., the Chief Executive Officer). Indeed, Jonathan Arnowitz and others claim that the CXO and CEO are one and the same at Apple. But few CEOs can do what Steve Jobs does when it comes to design and user experience. (Plus, it is not necessarily the case that a successful CXO need be as "hands-on" as Steve Jobs.)

Panelist Jim Nieters, Sr. Manager of User Experience Design at Cisco, argued that it would be difficult for anyone in such a role to have anything but symbolic value at Cisco:
"There is a Senior VP in charge of our security products -- that person defines strategy. Our Chief Security Officer is more of a visible function -- more of a political function. That person goes and talks with people out in Washington and that kind of thing. So, I'm not sure that a Chief Experience Officer would be able to make an impact in the company, because we are very stove-piped as a company -- we have business units and technology groups -- it is like a kingdom -- every business unit is its own profit and loss center, and each of the executives owns everything..."
Panelist Jeremy Ashley, VP of Applications User Experience at Oracle, was the panelist who expressed concern about "the board dictating the colors or fonts or other designs." However, he also said "it would be very good to have an advocate at that level, especially because then that advocate also controls budget, and we all know that budget is king."

And panelist Justin Miller, Sr. Director of Product at eBay for Europe, had this to say:
"I mentioned earlier that I don't think having a Chief Experience Officer is the right direction, because you don't want to have all of your other organizations not focused on it. But where I think we generally get stuck -- and maybe this is true industry-wide -- but certainly at eBay, is that we think of the user experience of the site, or the user experience of whatever product. I think that is a very narrow view.

What we have got to be thinking about is the complete user experience, the holistic user experience, which includes the word of mouth they hear, the marketing they see, the experience they have on the site, the experience our customers have when they talk to customer support, ... All of that is part of the user experience, and I haven't seen very many companies tackle that issue. That is a place for a C-level user experience person -- someone who can be looking across the organizations, someone who is not directly responsible for the user experience on the site, but helping customer support, marketing, the product or website, etc. work together to create a holistic, collective, positive user experience that reflects the brand promise."
However, Justin's interpretation of the role might not be equivalent to Jonathan's. Lou Carbone has expressed concern about multiple interpretations, writing that the "definition and interpretation of the role and function of a Chief Experience Officer tends to be all over the board..."

Consider, for example, what Gilmore and Pine identify as the CXO's primary responsibility: to "develop, launch, manage and refresh a rich portfolio of paid-for experiences...created specifically to generate new sources of revenue and profits in an increasingly commoditized world."

Hmm... That definition and interpretation appears to be far different from that intended by the people at Cleveland Clinic or by most others referenced in this article.

Carbone's words of caution continue: "in far too many instances, both the people appointing the chief experience officer and the individual that’s appointed, don’t have the foggiest notion of what that role and function entail."

Challis Hodge, Jeffrey Rayport, Jonathan Arnowitz, Bill Buxton, Bruce Temkin, and Justin Miller are among those who have some pretty clear notions which, while not necessarily equivalent, would benefit lots of companies.

Quoting Jeffrey Rayport:
"The new executive must relentlessly focus on unifying the disparate functions of human resources, marketing, operations, sales, service, and technology. For most companies, such integration suggests an unholy alliance of warring fiefdoms and silos, and that's precisely why the C-suite needs an individual with the power and authority to deliver integrated experiences for customers."
As Jonathan entitled his upcoming interactions magazine article, "Enter the Chief Design Officer! Hail to the Chief!"