Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter
Business Journal

Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter

Six Sigma changed the face of manufacturing quality, creating excellence by reducing variance in finished goods, revolutionizing businesses, and boosting profits. Now, Human Sigma is poised to do the same for sales and service organizations.

This book offers an innovative, research-based approach to one of the toughest challenges facing business today: how to drive success by effectively managing the moments where employees interact with customers. Based on research spanning 10 million employees and 10 million customers around the globe, the Human Sigma approach combines a proven method for assessing the health of the employee-customer encounter with a disciplined process for improving it.

Human Sigma is based on five new rules to bring excellence to the way employees engage and interact with customers:

RULE #1: E Pluribus Unum. Employee and customer experiences must be managed together -- not as separate entities.

RULE #2: Feelings Are Facts. Emotions drive and shape the employee-customer encounter.

RULE #3: Think Globally, Measure and Act Locally. The employee-customer encounter must be measured and managed at the local level.

RULE #4: There Is One Number You Need to Know. Employee and customer engagement interact to drive enhanced financial performance. And this interaction can be quantified and summarized with a single performance metric.

RULE #5: If You Pray for Potatoes, You Better Grab a Hoe. This means that good intentions alone do not constitute a plan of action. Sustainable improvement in the employee-customer encounter requires disciplined local action coupled with a companywide commitment to changing how employees are recruited, positioned in roles, rewarded and recognized, and importantly, how they are managed.

Essential reading for today's global business leaders, Human Sigma shows how sales and service companies can flourish in the new global economy. It reveals a profoundly different method for managing human systems for growth. Blending strategic analysis with hands-on, practical steps and advice, Human Sigma will change how you view your work, your employees, and your customers forever.

About the Authors

John H. Fleming, Ph.D., is a Principal of Gallup and Chief Scientist for Gallup's Customer Engagement and HumanSigma practices. He consults with Gallup's global clients to help them improve customer engagement and enhance their business effectiveness. Fleming is a coauthor of the Harvard Business Review article "Manage Your Human Sigma."

Prior to joining Gallup, Fleming spent six years as a member of the psychology faculty at the University of Minnesota. He received his doctorate in social psychology and master's degree in psychology from Princeton University and his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He lives near Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife, Robin, and their daughters, Allison and Emma.

Jim Asplund is a Principal of Gallup and Chief Scientist for Strengths-Based Development. He leads Gallup's global research on the science of human strengths and how to apply them to improve organizational performance. Asplund is also one of Gallup's leading methodologists, specializing in complex research and development efforts.

Prior to joining Gallup, Asplund spent eight years as a policy expert and lobbyist at the Minnesota Legislature, representing clients in the areas of taxation, education funding, and economic development. He earned his master's degree in public policy with emphasis in mathematical demography from the University of Minnesota and his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Grinnell College in Iowa. Asplund lives near St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, Susan, and their sons, Jakob and Jonas.


"I love [the authors'] idea of increasing the application of measurement in the human dimension."

Marshall Goldsmith, in BusinessWeek

"What Six Sigma did for manufacturing, Human Sigma will do for the service economy."

Ralph Oliva, Executive Director, Institute for the Study of Business Markets, Penn State University

"This book is a powerful new tool for improving your company's performance and creating high-value engagements with your customers."

Philip Kotler, S.C. Johnson; Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management

"Human Sigma reminds us of an important principle that is often overlooked inside the boardrooms and offices where business decisions are made: The world was built on relationships between human beings."

Brian J. Dunn, President and COO, Best Buy Co., Inc.

"Human Sigma is essential reading for executives and managers everywhere. The concepts that John Fleming and Jim Asplund spell out in this book will help companies get the most out of their employees while inspiring deep and lasting relationships with customers."

Gerard Van Grinsven, President and CEO, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Michigan
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