Undercover agent

­UNDERCOVER BOSS was CBS’s Emmy-nominated #1 new series of the 2009-2010 season, averaging 17.7 million viewers. Its premiere episode ranks as the biggest new series premiere since 1987 and the most-watched premiere episode of any reality series. Clearly they’re on to something.

In case you’ve missed it, each episode follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission. Cloaked in a disguise and armed with a plausible explanation for the cameras, they’re filmed working alongside their employees. We get to witness a personal awakening as each executive discovers the effects that their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and the unsung heroes who make their companies run.

As viewers, we see the walls between “corporate” and its workers come tumbling down. We see each side begin to have empathy for the other. It made me think of the long-standing contention between marketing and sales organizations. There are countless articles, books, blogs, and tweets describing why this has been the case. Somewhat fewer are the suggestions for fixing the problem. One thing is clear. Neither organization feels the other understands their issues. Thus my proposal. What if marketing went undercover?

What if cameras followed the head of marketing – perhaps posing as a college student on assignment – around for one week as he or she “interned” with an inside rep, a field rep, and a district sales manager? Granted, it might not make for good television. But certainly –if done with honest intentions – it could make for a worthy, real-life experiment.

And so, even though my original intent for this post was to imagine the possible outcomes and describe them in a most clever and thought-provoking manner – I will instead turn it over to our audience of marketers and sellers out there who find the thought intriguing and would like to take a stab at predicting the outcomes.

What do you think would be the outcomes?

What would we learn from the process? Would it help us understand each other better? Respect each other better? Would our perceptions of each other change? Would we be better off for having done it?