Judgment on the Front Line: How Smart Companies Win By Trusting Their People. Chris DeRose, Noel M. Tichy. Portfolio.

Judgment on the Front Line: How Smart Companies Win By Trusting Their People Book Cover Judgment on the Front Line: How Smart Companies Win By Trusting Their People
Chris DeRose, Noel M. Tichy
October 11, 2012

Front-line associates who deal directly with customers are the face of any organization. Not only do they have the most impact on how a brand is perceived, but they are also the most valuable source of insight into what customers want and how to give it to them.

Management experts Chris DeRose and Noel Tichy have spent years partnering with CEOs as they try to transform their organizations, which often entails working with leaders from top to bottom to help thousands of associates aligned with the organization’s vision.

Unfortunately, as DeRose and Tichy explain, most organizations don’t tap into the knowledge, creativity, and experience of the vast majority of their staffs. Despite the many leaders who claim that “people are our organization’s most important asset,” few have developed methods for systematically learning from those on the front line. Even fewer know how to give front-line associates a useful toolkit for problem-solving and innovation.

Judgment on the Front Line shows how to build a front line-focused organization. DeRose and Tichy offer a five-step process that helps leaders identify how to generate dynamic customer innovation at the front line, and they give powerful examples of frontline leadership in action. You’ll learn how to…

  • Amazon, Facebook, and Intuit have created cultures in which experimentation flourishes, enabling frontline talent to innovate new products and services.
  • Zappos trusts its people to do just about anything in service of a customer, including providing free products or reimbursing for mistakes.
  • Navy SEALs are taught to think on their feet and make life-changing decisions in a split second.
  • Mayo Clinic has put power in the hands of those caring directly for patients.
  • Ritz-Carleton employees are empowered to create unique and personalized experiences for every hotel guest.

Ultimately, senior leaders are responsible for determining a company strategy, where it invests its resources, and which customers it chooses to target. But once those decisions are made, most organizations have hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of people whom they can better involve in deciding exactly how to win in the market.

As the authors write:

We have witnessed firsthand how front-line workers deal with unpleasant customers, broken work processes, burdensome bureaucracy, and overbearing bosses. We have walked away from these encounters amazed and inspired. Nearly everyone we have met wanted to learn and contribute more. They had a sincere passion to make a difference with their work.

Chris DeRose has consulted and taught around the world with companies such as Royal Dutch/Shell, Ford Motor Company, Intel, 3M, and HP. He teaches in executive education at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Noel M. Tichy is the author of Judgment, Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will, and many other business bestsellers. He is a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and advises CEOs around the world.