Some examples of what providing proven skills, experience and expertise to create unique solutions to help you step up looks like in the real world.

Background

  • A local subsidiary of a major international company was asked to complete a new marketing planning process to bring local planning in line with the parent organisation.
  • The local organisation had a history of successful planning and delivery of marketing activities.
  • The new marketing plan requirements, including a significant number of templates, new processes and new terminology, were required to be completed in a short timeframe (out of alignment with previous local planning cycles) so that plans could be discussed and amalgamated at a regional, and then global, level within the organisation.
  • Due to the previous success of the local organisation and the high additional burden of the new requirements (along with the usual tensions involved in change), there was significant resistance amongst the team to complete the task.
  • The local Marketing Director was acutely aware of the need to meet the deadlines and new requirements to serve the organisational need, as well as the impact that this would have locally.

Evaluation

Following a preliminary discussion with the Marketing Director, it was clear that:

  • Completing the templates on time, in a highly professional manner, was a non-negotiable.
  • As this was a new process, the Marketing Director wanted to ensure that the process could be completed as seamlessly as possible, recognising that there were large changes and additional work that needed to be made by the marketing team.
  • With this process now internationally established, it was seen as critical to develop the skills of the team to be able to commit to and complete the new marketing planning approach on a yearly basis.
  • Ensuring that the plans could be delivered without sacrificing current work requirements (driving local success) and ensuring local success strategies could be represented in the new plan were also seen as important outcomes.
  • Overcoming the resistance within the team to the ‘enforced change’ was going to be crucial to getting their buy in to the effort required

Outcome

  • In collaboration with the Marketing Director, I reviewed of the international plan template versus the local plan structure.  The gaps were identified, the alternate language required and a key set of steps to completing the plans was developed.
  • A crash-course half-day ‘behavioural marketing’ training session was organised.  Utilising the new language and concept frames of the international template, the focus was on building a really strong case for the new process (generating buy-in within the team), defining the benefits to the local organisation, and familiarising them with the language, elements and processes that they would need to successfully complete the tasks.
  • Each member of the team received a marketing planning coaching session.  This 1:1 session helped each brand manager identify their individual needs and support them to develop their plans, challenge their thinking and fine tune the messages and approach to completing the new process.  Each brand manager then worked through the templates on a specific timeline, contacting me as needed for ongoing support and coaching.
  • On completion on the plans, each was sent to me for review and comment.  Having built rapport with the group, elements of the plans were able to be challenged, language re-aligned and structural changes made to enhance acceptability of the plans within the international planning process.
  • A final half-day team meeting was then conducted, where each of the plans was presented (in seven slides) and ‘pressure tested’ by the group. A celebratory dinner was then arranged.

Follow-up

  • The brand plans were submitted on time, in the appropriate structure and format.
  • The plans reflected and delivered excellent local marketing activities and planning.
  • The staff were highly engaged in the process, developing their understanding of the role of the local marketing within the greater regional and global marketing functions.
  • The country planning was held up as an example of excellence for other markets in the region.
  • The team members were prepared to conduct the next year’s planning on their own, with the new timelines now in their schedules, and internal milestones and deadlines to meet these requirements already established.
  • The quality of the marketing discussions changed based upon the new language and approach, as well as the idea of a local ‘pressure test’ for each brand plan prior to implementation.

What we can learn

  • Often we get caught between competing priorities, particularly when changed priorities are ‘forced’ upon us.
  • Defining what is negotiable and not negotiable in terms of outcomes is often a valuable step.  If people are allowed to keep arguing over what is not negotiable, no headway is achieved.  Instead, shifting the conversation to ‘how’ the non-negotiable elements will be delivered we open up useful dialogue that moves us forward.
  • Team members often value a strong ‘reason why’ to be motivated to shift from their status quo.
  • Even with motivation, without the appropriate skills and support new tasks can be difficult to achieve.
  • By combining a mix of consulting, coaching, facilitating and training, we were able to add real value to the change process and achieve the outcomes.
  • Building the skills in the right people means that in future, they will be able to self-manage and lead this process.

Background

One of the regional groups of an international business – representing the emerging and growth markets – was renowned for delivering outstanding double digit growth over the last decade, whereas the larger, more established regions provided higher sales with smaller (mid-single digit) growth over the same period.

With a change in conditions, the developing growth markets had ‘caught up’ to the other regions and were planned to provide only single digit growth.  Consequently there was significant pressure being applied to marketing budgets in the face of this planned sales growth slow-down. The budget cuts would significantly cut into key marketing programs supporting the planned growth rate, so even lower sales growth was now being predicted.

The countries within the region, by virtue of their high growth rates, had not had to contend with budget cuts before.  There was significant concern within the country subsidiaries regarding their ability to run their marketing with the reduced budgets, unrest regarding the process, and some fear regarding the implications (to their jobs, and the jobs of their teams).

The Bigger Game for this region was the need to evolve the marketing – to make it more effective and efficient, to find untapped sources of growth, be better at planning and budgeting in the countries and make better decisions about where to invest between competing opportunities.

Evaluation

An evaluation of the situation suggested that a new approach to marketing planning within the budget limits needed to be undertaken.  Marketing spend was not truly accounted for (against results) in many markets, activities were driven based on habit or fear (without true rationalisation towards the plan), and there was little co-ordination or oversight of the activities.  The previous scenario of double digit growth had provided a situation where few questions were asked of the way marketing was conducted.

A plan was put in place to bring greater accountability to the marketing, develop significant planning skills in the marketers, enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the marketing efforts and improve co-ordination and synergy of efforts in different markets.

To achieve this

A marketing planning workshop was arranged, where all markets in the region were trained in advanced ‘behavioural marketing’ planning skills.  Conducted over 3 x 3 day blocks (with preparation required in between), this meant developing, training and implementing a more rigorous (but simple) marketing planning approach.

Redefining the markets within the region, clustering and customising approaches as needed (rather than ‘one size fits all’).

Coach the regional marketing executives on how to coach the country representatives and get their commitment and buy in to the process.

A follow-up workshop was conducted, based on best practice sharing amongst country delegates, synergies were identified and coordinated at a regional level.

 

Tactical planning was conducted to review and pressure test activity plans and budgets, by holding a workshop to define what activities would be kept, started or stopped in line with the new approach.

Outcome

  • The client reported a much higher standard and consistency of marketing planning, and the simplification made it easier and quicker for the countries to complete, as well as to compare and analyse opportunities presented in the plans.
  • Over one million Euros of activities were stopped (voluntarily selected by the countries) which did not meet the new behavioural marketing approach.  Reinvestment of this money in more focused, higher-priority activities (removing the impact of the budget cuts and providing an unexpected windfall for many of the countries to invest in higher value activities).
  • A centre-supports-the-countries approach was developed, where synergistic activities were collated and operationalised at the regional level, removing wasteful duplication.
  • An increase in the skills of both regional and country representatives in having quality conversations about marketing, as well as the speed of communication and decision making.
  • Best practice ideas were more easily shared and implemented in other markets.  Countries greatly appreciated the chance to show off ideas and learn from their colleagues what could be implemented in their markets.
  • The global organisation took the regional approach as a ‘best case’ operations model for dealing with subsidiary organisations and groups, and for how regional groups should plan with their countries.
  • The sales results were higher than planned, within the reduced marketing spend, over the next two planning years.

The workshops were voted the best marketing meetings ever attended by several of the country participants.0

What you can learn

  • Often success can hide structural inefficiencies.  Only because of slowing growth rates and increased budgetary pressure, the countries were forced to become more efficient and effective.
  • They say 50% of your marketing budget is wasted, you just don’t know which 50%.  Really understanding the basis for activities (using a behavioural marketing model) can allow you to identify high value versus low value activities.
  • Too often marketing is done out of fear or habit.  Removing these activities can have a massive impact (in this case, increased growth and saving over a million Euros for reinvestment in higher quality activities)
  • Managing the process of change is an important part of any project.
  • Developing the skills allows people to commit and become engaged in new processes.
  • Country marketers had fantastic and innovative ideas.  Encouraging them to share these ideas was a valuable experience for them, and those learning from them.

Often, activities can be synergised for multiple markets and performed more efficiently and effectively at a higher level (ie, by the regional office).

Background

  • An organisation had over 10 years of successful operation and growth.  Targeting the manufacturing and construction industries, they prided themselves on their health and safety record.
  • Over the period of 6 months, a number of serious workplace accidents, including a fatality, occurred across a number of sites.  The events were unforseen and tragic.
  • The organisation went into ‘freeze’ mode – the impact of these events impacted everyone in the business.
  • Customers were concerned at the response of the company, and the way these events could be significant for them.

Evaluation

I was invited to consult with the organisation to manage and move beyond the crisis.   Following a preliminary investigation with the board and senior executive, it was clear that:

  • Said one thing (safety) and valued another (profit and growth).
  • Had no formal or informal crisis management or response manual.
  • Were heavily impacted by the incidents, and not clear on how to move forward.
  • Were no resilient in their management or leadership approach
  • Did not have a strategy or action plan with communicating to staff and customers.

The bigger game for this organisation was to get past this series of events, then develop resilience in planning, skills and culture to prepare them to deal with any shocks that may arise in future.

Outcome

  • In conjunction with the managing director, a series of communications to staff and customers was developed based on best practice crisis response guidelines.
  • A keynote training session on crisis and crisis management was given to the board and senior executive to crystallize the issues, needs and key steps to move forward.
  • A ‘leadership summit’ was organised to the top three layers of the organisation.  This 2 day ‘summit’ was built on shifting the cultural priority, developing a shared sense of corporate purpose and responsibility, share experiences and provide first action plans for managers and leaders.
  • Cultural artifacts were developed and deployed to support the new focus.
  • Consulting with the senior executive, a ‘crisis management’ plan template was developed, and the responsible people coached on its completion.  Review and suggested improvements, through ongoing coaching, as also offered.
  • A wider ‘contingency plan’ process was initiated.  Small contingency plans were available in certain departments (ie, IT), but a broader, company-wide contingency plan was constructed and populated.
  • A further ‘health and safety’ summit was organised after 12 months to review, celebrate and set new action plans.

Follow-up

  • The organisation has had no further incidents.
  • The business has used the incidents to have important discussions internally and externally.
  • Market share has increased at better margins based upon the clear ‘wellbeing’ purpose, as opposed to ‘profit/growth’ messaging
  • The crisis and contingency plans are approved, circulated and practiced within the broader business
  • A clear culture around resilient response is in evidence across key leaders of the business.

What we can learn

  • Organisations need to be prepared for critical incidents and crisis.  A well-developed crisis plan and contingency process are a minimum.
  • Understanding the scope of risks in a business is part of proper governance.  Including these in the planning is good business.
  • There are best practice methods of communicating in crisis that make a big difference
  • Building a new culture requires a clear purpose, buy in and the development of practical artifacts of the new culture which are propagated throughout the business.
  • Crisis can help build resilience.  Coaching leaders with a focus on resilient behaviours and thinking can help develop resilience without the need for a traumatic event to drive it.
  • Having profit and growth as your ‘reason for doing business’ does not wash with customers, especially when a crisis emerges.  Having an intention bigger than this is critical.

Background

  • A company in the technological space had received feedback from the market that new competitive threats were in early phase development.
  • Further research suggested that their market leading position was under threat, with a time horizon of approximately 5-7 years before their offering (and its iterations) would be obsolete.
  • The organisation had no strategies outside of the current technology base (their strength) and the emergence of this new technology posed a significant (business ending) risk to the organisation.

Evaluation

I was invited to consult with the organisation to help them develop a new strategic vision and plan.  The bigger game was to determine a path forward which would make them both relevant and successful beyond the introduction of the alternate technology.

Following a review of the strategic plans, mission statements and R&D portfolio, it was clear that:

  • The organisation had a strong market position based on a single concept platform, with high risk of exposure when that platform became obsolete.
  • The focus and the skills of the organisation were highly focused around the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the utilisation of that platform – there was little focus on the customer’s actual requirements and needs, which would make them even more vulnerable if the market fundamentally shifted.
  • The company had immersed itself in LEAN and 6-sigma approaches, which had led to significant process improvements of the current platform, offering them profit and to-market advantages which they were capitalising upon in the current climate.  These were the preoccupation of the organisation and were reflected in the performance management schedules of most individuals.
  • The R&D scope was within the same technology base.  Little exploratory development was occurring, versus iterations of current offerings.
  • There was no broad understanding or buy-in to the need to adapt to changing technologies, or the cost-benefit of innovating outside of their specific platform.

The bigger game for this organisation was to reset its strategic agenda, develop a customer-experience centric approach and reinvigorate the organisation to step the business up through the challenge of obsolescence to create something new.

Outcome

  • The first priority was to recast the mission of the organisation.  Senior leaders were gathered into a workshop where the challenges were made clear  and a sense of urgency (and priority) in dealing with the upcoming obsolescence installed.  This session also defined the company’s “purpose” – which would act as a focal point (the “Why”)for driving change.
  • A new strategic planning approach was introduced.  Using the 3G-5E methodology, the leadership group recast the strategy based upon current, near-term and longer term frameworks, setting up strategy and action plans to achieve each.
  • A creative future vision workshop was held.  The core competencies of the organisation which underpinned its current success were drawn out, and used as the basis for serving the ‘purpose’ of the organisation moving forward.  The leadership group were split into teams, a competitive element introduced and innovations built from competencies presented and tested.
  • Broad buy in through culture change around the new purpose was introduced to the organisation.  Leaders were trained and coached in culture change and change-engagement strategies.
  • Projects from the workshop were passed to R&D for development, with clear funding streams and board-level support.

Follow-up

  • The organisation had a clearly stated purpose, which built on its competencies and served the customer.  This purpose was communicated internally and externally often, and clearly.
  • The business implemented a new strategic planning approach, so that it planned across broad life stages of the business moving forward.  A new level of confidence was apparent throughout the organisation.
  • The R&D department was completely energised by the new approaches, and a sense of urgency and exploration was instilled in the group.
  • The combined future value of prioritised projects from the creative workshop was estimated to be over $16 million.  This was therefore unrealised corporate value now possible for the company to achieve.
  • The company tightened up its risk management, reviewed it crisis and continuation plans, instigated more rigorous customer, market and competitor intelligence.
  • The organisation scheduled regular strategy and R&D reviews to ensure progress against their plans

What we can learn

  • Organisations can have many competencies which are applied to their current business model that may be leveraged to create significant opportunity in other areas of business.
  • Many organisations sit on unrealised value.  The focus on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the business often limits the organisation from recognising its own potential.
  • Critical threats to the business can arise from customers, the market context, competitors, and own internal risks.  Vigilance in monitoring and projecting potential risk scenarios is important for the business.
  • Companies can ‘LEAN’ or ‘6-Sigma’ themselves into oblivion.  Whilst this is useful to capitalise on the current business scenario, it often precludes an organisation from looking over the horizons to innovation and opportunity.
  • Sometimes it is a major threat which brings about transformative change.  Facing this with resilience is supported by appropriate coaching and skills development.
  • Creating a purpose is the first step in directing an organisation to shift – to new behaviours, activities or cultures.