What's your favorite CSM analogy?

Ed Powers
Ed Powers Member Posts: 180 Expert
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edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations
How do you describe the CSM role? What analogies do you use?

I had a brainstorm for a new analogy while working with a client yesterday and I thought you might like it:

CSMs are like professional golf caddies. 

For those unfamiliar, professional golfers have very special relationships with their caddies. They are the unsung heroes behind championships. Despite rarely sharing the spotlight, the pros revere them for helping them win. 

I love what Michael Collins, former pro caddie and sports analyst at ESPN, wrote in a 2016 blog:

"Here's what really makes a great caddie:

Trust. Does the player know with every fiber of his or her being that the caddie is giving the best information possible? When players aren't sure what to do, they have to be able to trust their caddies to know their game well enough to give them the best opportunity for greatness.

Honesty. Players don't like hearing they're wrong or they're getting bad advice from someone close to them (i.e. a swing coach, sports psychologist, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.). A great caddie is willing to say the things most people around a golfer won't say.

Positivity. All golfers go through lows in their game. They get down in the dumps and have a tough time getting out. It happens often on the course and can even surface during a good round. The best caddies exude an air of positive confidence that makes players feel that even when they're not at their best they can be successful."

What's your favorite analogy? 


  • Jeffrey Nadeau
    Jeffrey Nadeau Member Posts: 28 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
    Great question! I will share my favorite analogy and it does depend on the type of CSM you need. The assumption is the CSM needs to understand both business and technical information but does not need to know how to do the technical work. 

    When you go to a body shop to get your car repaired, you first meet with a person who you talk through what issues you're having, what the cost might be, what possible work they could do to fix your car, alternate things to consider, how long the job might take, etc.. --- This is the CSM. 

    Next, once the person understands all of your issues, they can then talk with the Mechanic (the engineer) and they are able to complete the work to fix the car. If at any time you have any questions about what the Mechanic is doing you can ask the person who checked you in (CSM) as they understand what work the Mechanic did, but they can't do the work themselves. It's just as important to be able to communicate updates to customers on the technical work being done. 

    I like this analogy because I think the best CSMs both know how to talk with customers and understand the work that needs to be done to resolve issues so they can gain trust and credibility with both the customer and internal teams. 

    Aligns with what you shared above as well for Trust and Honesty. 
  • Miko Hinojosa
    Miko Hinojosa Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited October 2020
    Love this - I usually use sports as analogies to explain my job. I've been as of lately becoming more of an F1 fan. So I tell friends and acquaintances that a CSM is like a Formula 1 Driver. 

    The F1 Driver has to get the most yield out of the car in every Grand Prix. Inside the cockpit, the F1 driver has to learn all about the car (steering functions, gears, temperature, the power unit, tires, etc) and always try to get at least in top 10 to score points for your team. The driver has to tackle adoption, adapt to all sorts of variables (weather, pole position, attack modes, endure G forces, listen to its engineer on the radio and provide feedback, look out after the car, etc). He is the voice of the car, he has to communicate to the mechanics so they can keep upgrading things all the time. And if all goes well - chances are your team will renew your contract with them in order to continue chasing podiums. 

    I find so many similarities with what we do with customers. 
    • We have to know the product from head to toe
    • Expect the unexpected (bugs, platform outages, releases, escalations, migrations, downgrades, churn)
    • We are the voice of the customer - we have to communicate with all teams depending on the customers needs (product roadmap, pricing, upsells, etc)
    • If we perform at our best, and get the most from the software to the customer - renewals are for the most part a given thing. 
    In the end - CSMs and F1 drivers are always chasing the main milestone - help achieve the desired outcome of the product.