Jeanne also answered my questions about how to establish a customer culture, social media strategy, leadership, earning the right to grow, and establishing a sense of urgency:
Establishing a Customer Centric Culture
“Culture is the action, not the words.” How do you connect corporate aspirations with employees’ actions?
For customer-driven work to be transformative and stick, it must be more than a customer manifesto. Commitment to customer-driven growth is proven with action and choices. To engender this culture, people need examples. They need proof.
“Culture is the action, not the words.” -Jeanne Bliss
Customer culture is talked about by many leaders but misunderstood by most organizations. “Commitment” to customers must be attached to deliberate operational behavior, such as, “We will go to market only after these 12 customer requirements are met” or “Every launch must meet these five conditions, which the field requires for success. We won’t launch without them, no exceptions.” People inside organizations need to see the commitment translated to actions that they will feel proud to follow and emulate.
Moving well past words, a deliberate and united set of leadership actions and behaviors practiced in unison is required.
One of the first activities we often undertake to unite leaders is to employ the journey framework to build an operational “code of conduct.”
Running a successful corporate program will call on almost every leadership principle you can imagine. From defining the problem to measuring success, leaders emerge through the process. In fact, I personally promoted a leader based on the leadership traits I witnessed during such a change project.
Satish Subramanian is a Principal at M Squared Consulting, a SolomonEdwards company. He has over 25 years of experience in technology consulting and advises companies on business transformation. His new book, Transforming Business with Program Management provides the necessary steps to ensure solid program management. I recently asked him about his work.
“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.” -C. Fitchner
“Success starts upfront” is all about problem definition. I have seen this numerous times in organizations. One of the most egregious examples was when it was clear the group was working on two very different problems. Neither side even realized it until months into it. Why is defining the problem so important? Would you share an example from your work?
The problem definition step is a critical one in the early stages of the business transformation journey. This step ensures the problem is well understood and agreed upon by stakeholders prior to expending significant organizational resources for a long period to solve it. It positions the transformational change program for success, facilitates the delivery of agreed strategic objectives, and realizes the transformational vision.
One example is that of a well-known biotech company that outsourced its finance, accounting, and payroll functions to an off-shore location as part of a strategic initiative to reduce cost. In hindsight, the organization realized it should have redesigned the business processes to overcome significant process gaps and then consider outsourcing. The inadequate upfront definition of the problem resulted in the goal of cost reduction not getting met in the designated time frames.
“No matter how good the team, if we’re not solving the right problem, the project fails.” –Woody Williams
Program management is the alignment and integration of multiple dimensions (strategy, people, process, technology, structure, and measurement) to execute organization transformation strategies, deliver the transformed future state, and achieve the desired business outcomes.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” -Larry Elder
Would you share the program management life cycle phases?
Program management life cycle is the four-phase approach to drive a business transformation program from start to finish. This life cycle enables and sustains business transformation by articulating vision, developing an integrated transformation program plan, driving the plan, removing execution barriers, delivering planned business outcomes, and realizing business benefits. The illustration highlights the four phases and the eight processes that constitute the program management life cycle.
The four phases are:
Phase One – Set the stage
Phase Two – Decide what to do
Phase Three – Make it happen
Phase Four – Make it stick
Copyright 2015 by Satish P Subramanian; Used by Permission
Rob-Jan De Jong is a speaker, consultant and faculty member at Wharton’s executive program on Global Strategic Leadership. His new book, Anticipate: The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead, outlines what it takes to become a visionary leader. Sharing examples and principles from his research, Rob-Jan’s mission is to increase your personal visionary capacity. I recently had the opportunity to ask him about vision and the art of looking ahead.
“Anyone can grow their visionary capacity.” –Rob-Jan De Jong
As a CEO, I just loved this sentence: “Vision is not an exclusive for those in top ranked positions.” It’s really something for everyone, not only those with a title. How do corporate leaders unleash creativity and vision at all levels of the organization?
Empowerment and trust.
An important success factor is around empowerment and trust. A directive company culture is detrimental for people’s engagement. Having a sense of influence is a prerequisite for getting people to become involved in the hard work of engaging with uncertainty and anticipating the future.
“Vision is not an exclusive for those in top ranked positions.” –Rob-Jan De Jong
A second critical factor is fault tolerance. This naturally goes with empowerment – people will get it right and every so often they will get it wrong. These are the important moments of truth for you as the leader, as your response will set the standard for the culture that shapes from these moments. People will be on the lookout about how serious you are about empowerment. My simple suggestion is to not focus on what went wrong but to focus on what the person has learned.
“Visioning, future engagement, anticipation is a skill set and a mindset.” –Rob-Jan De Jong
And a third factor that should not be underestimated is that you will also need to enable your people to do this. Visioning, future engagement, anticipation is a skill set and a mindset. And it is often a step aside from the environment people have grown accustomed to, so you will need to enable your people to strengthen themselves in this area.
That might sound like blatant promotion for my work and my book, but I’m absolutely convinced that this has been a gap in management theory. Despite the widely acknowledged importance of ‘vision’ in leadership, little – if any – systematic support has been provided in terms of developing your visionary side as a leader in a responsible way. Scholars, business schools and strategy textbooks agree that a vision is one of the most powerful instruments a leader can have. And how you go about developing this side of your leadership has been met with tremendous silence.
It was my intention to fill part of this gap by offering a comprehensive perspective on the topic, original ideas, a developmental framework, various practices, and many stories and anecdotes to draw lessons from.
“Vision, the hallmark of leadership, is less a derivative of spreadsheets and more a product of the mind called imagination.” –Abraham Zaleznik
It was 1984 when Roger Ulrich released the results of a study that changed the way modern medical science thought about patient recovery. Patients who had gallbladder surgery were split between hospital rooms with a view of nature and rooms with a view of a brick wall. Controlling for all other factors, Dr. Ulrich concluded that those with a view of the nature outside recovered faster, required less pain medicine, and had fewer negative comments recorded by the nurses.
Intuitively, the conclusions make sense. A natural view creates a sense of peace, reduces stress and helps us relax. The study had a wide-ranging impact on the environments of hospitals and other institutions.
Interesting, you say, and then you file this tidbit away should you ever find yourself healing from gallbladder surgery: When that happens, I want a room with a view!
I believe that healing from surgery is not the only benefit of a good view.
The doctors in this study, working in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital, had the same strategy in mind for the patients. But the results were different based on a factor that they were not controlling. That difference was not the medicines, the care, nor the treatment strategy.
The difference was the view.
“What you view has impact on who you become.” -Skip Prichard
If you are marketing a company, a product, an idea, or even your personal brand, you may feel the pull between the new-media world and the traditional marketing methods you studied in school. When new technologies emerge, it often seems like everything is changing. Whether digital, mobile, or social, we are looking for new ways to connect with our audience.
What if these new ways actually prevented a brand from reaching its potential?
How do you get people to stick around?
How do you engage people in a substantive way, winning them over?
Tom Doctoroff has more than 20 years of experience shaping hundreds of global brands ranging from Microsoft to Ford to Nestle. He’s appeared regularly on NBC, CBS, CNBC and other major media outlets. Tom’s new book Twitter is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing is all about engagement. Its wisdom spans the two worlds, combining digital and traditional marketing to win and engage consumers.
The Marketing Identity Crisis
Tom, you’re the CEO of J. Walter Thompson in AsiaPacific and for decades have shaped some of the world’s biggest brands. Your new book title, Twitter is Not a Strategy, seems to imply some level of frustration. Did you write this book with some level of frustration?
I wouldn’t call it frustration exactly. But, yes, I do think the communications industry is going through something of an identity crisis. The fundamentals of advertising and branding are too often forsaken as marketers seek technological and algorithmic salvation. The rise of digital has led to marketer anxiety, consumer confusion and too many transactional brands. But old and new, traditional and digital, broadcast and “lean in” media are complementary.
“Each creative expression of the brand idea should be conceived with a specific behavioral objective in mind.” -Tom Doctoroff
Twitter is Not a Strategy is not meant to be a breakthrough book. Indeed it might even be “anti-breakthrough.” It is a call for the entire industry to stand up and reclaim the conceptual high ground of marketing communications. Carefully crafted strategies and executions—adherence to the ABCs of brand building—will remain our lighthouse. As brand pioneers, we must explore the shoals of a new digital landscape. But let’s not become stranded by anxiety and indecision. Timeless can be new.
Traditional versus New Marketing Tension
Your book explains the traditional top down branding approach (message clarity) with a bottom up (consumer empowerment) approach. How do these two approaches need to work together?
To avoid confusing consumers, engagement needs to be both authentic and constructed. Marketers must forge a paradigm that allows freedom within a framework, pulling off the trick of simultaneously permitting consumers to participate with brands while empowering marketers to manage the message and dialog. Marketers must achieve: harmony between the clarity of top-down positioning and the dynamism of bottom-up consumer engagement; between long-term brand equity and short-term tactical messaging; and between emotional relevance and results driven by data-driven technology.
Different kinds of media reach us for complementary purposes. Analog (traditional) media shape our brand preference while most digital media deepens our engagement and leads to brand loyalty.
The former boast broad reach. They forge perceptions across consumer masses. Film—with its sound, color, movement, and ability to break through clutter—is an indispensable tool to guide consumers amid an explosion of offerings. Even in the United States, despite the proliferation of smartphones and other digital devices, the 30-second broadcast television commercial continues to rule (and increase). Manufacturers spent some $67 billion on network and cable advertising in 2013 – and not for sentimental reasons.
The latter encourage engagement with brands. With more opportunity to trigger behavioral changes – learning more, using more, buying more, advocating more – marketers can increase the probability of purchase and repeat purchase.
Traditional media shape brand preference. Digital leads to loyalty.
As consumers move toward purchase, direct and digital media should dominate. These media provide more opportunity for engagement—that is, direct interaction with a brand idea and its creative expression. Marketers have more opportunity to trigger behavioral change and increase the probability the consumer will buy a product.
Advertising can encourage a limitless range of actions—from clicking through a banner ad and spending more time on a microsite to increasing consumers’ frequency of washing their hair. The arsenal of tools marketers can deploy to encourage certain behavior is broad. Marketers also can use analog media to trigger specific behavior during later phases—for example, by using stunning “product beauty shots” and other point-of-sale material to stimulate trial usage.