Co-working and Leading Teams

The co-working movement may be considered the latest fad, but it has been around for decades under different names and forms.  Cross-organizational or cross-functional teamwork is the basis of many existing business processes.  Co-location of teams and matrixed organizations are also well known. Marketing, product development and innovation teams have long realized the benefits of working in multi-disciplinary teams to better accomplish goals.  Recently new research indicates it has a surprisingly strong psychological basis.

coworking-space

See WENDY MARX  07.14.16 5:00 AM http://www.fastcompany.com/3061515/the-scientific-reason-why-coworking-may-be-the-future-of-work

New cultural tactics such as working in pairs that rotate every five days, and company culture and social structure designed to help employees collaborate are more and more popular. Expanding offices and creating innovation centers to allow current clients or new startups and entrepreneurs to work with company teams generate strong connections and innovation in the process.

No doubt co-working is an established movement.  An of a new platform includes WeWork as well as other co-working platforms taking shape in a variety of forms.

How can you bring the benefits of co-working to your organization?

There’s no forced socialization. Team spaces that allow employees to be as friendly, or as reserved, as an individual wants work well.  Creating secure and accessible space for interaction with outside parties allows for learning and collaborative work.

And according to researchers who’ve studied the effectiveness of co-working, they’re all on to something. Wendy Marx explains why.  The following is an excerpt from her recent article in Fast Company cited above:

TWO BASIC HUMAN NEEDS CO-WORKING FULFILLS

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan’s Steven M. Ross School of Business led by business professor Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer, who also directs the Center for Positive Organizations, has spent the last four years studying co-working. In the process, they’ve interviewed the founders of co-working companies around the U.S. and surveyed more than 200 workers from dozens of co-working spaces; one team member spent six months as a co-working member.

Their research uncovered two key benefits to the co-working experience, both of which have been linked to improved employee performance. Simplified somewhat, it comes down to flexibility and autonomy without dispensing with meaningful community.

It turns out that co-working spaces’ hallmarks—like funky design features—are far less important than their social structures, where workers feel a sense of individual autonomy that’s still linked to a sense of collaboration, the Michigan team told me in interviews. Most co-working spaces, for all their variation, tend to strike that careful balance between those crucial needs—in ways that neither solo freelancing nor the traditional office experience usually provide.

Typically, coworkers pay a monthly fee in exchange for the freedom to work when, where, and how they want. Often open 24/7, coworking facilities let members come and go and sit wherever they like. There’s no forced socialization. You can be as friendly or as reserved as you want.

Co-workers also have the freedom to literally shape their environment—which some research suggests can significantly improve workers’ performance and productivity. In their research, the Michigan team found that some co-working companies have taken it upon themselves to redesign their spaces to better meet members’ needs, raising additional money to do so and inviting users to help design the new features.

Independence, adaptability, flexibility: These characteristics are fundamental human needs. So it isn’t surprising that they’ve been linked to positive outcomes in the workplace, too, from improved performance to higher rates of employee commitment and engagement.

They also help explain why more companies are embracing flexible work schedules—many of the same ones, in fact, that are exploring coworking. GE, Parades tells me, now offers flexible work arrangements for all its U.S. employees as long as they’ve got their managers’ approval.

COMMUNITIES THAT MINIMIZE INTERNAL COMPETITION

But this isn’t the whole story, the Michigan researchers found. Autonomy and flexibility may be crucial, but your work environment is hardly the only factor that can supply them. The other key benefit that coworking spaces tend to offer is a sense of community—not just any community, but one where people, as Dr. Spreitzer puts it, are “free to be themselves” because they don’t feel they’re competing with those around them. As a result, ideas are more freely shared.

People are “free to be themselves” because they don’t feel they’re competing with those around them.
Spreitzer, Garrett, and their third colleague Dr. Peter Bacevice, director of research at architecture and design firm HLW International, found that that type of communal spirit provides the necessary ballast to autonomy. While too much freedom can actually hurt productivity, grafting a community structure onto an already flexible one provides what she calls “the optimal degree of control.”

Typically, people join coworking spaces because they want to be part of a community while still doing their own thing. Members often share their thoughts and needs on Slack or some other communal platform. Everyone is usually expected to volunteer to maintain the facility. Lectures, outings, and other events are planned—but optional.

Here’s one coworking member that PhD candidate Lyndon Garrett interviewed as part of the research:

It’s really positively affected my work because it . . . makes me happier all the time, and having people around that I’m not in competition with but who can bring experience from different industries and different situations is really, really helpful . . . I’ve been able to come in contact with ideas I wouldn’t have normally come in contact with.
Traditional companies are trying to create that same sense of serendipity. AT&T has created coworking-like spaces where the company’s own engineers mingle with independent developers and startups in order to accelerate AT&T’s innovation cycle. The office furniture company Steelecase redesigned its corporate office to include a work café that strongly resembles those at the center of many coworking spaces, based on the idea that employees may be stimulated and build friendships with people outside their work unit.

So if more employers follow suit in the months and years ahead, they aren’t just jumping on a trendy bandwagon. Sure, they might be doing that, too, but they’re also trying to tap into the science that helps explain what makes people work well—alone and together.

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H1 2016 is Over! Act on H2.

Today’s thought from INSIGHTOVATION® – July 19, 2016

Stay ahead of your business cadence.

Are you still analyzing the first half of 2016 to see where you are vs. the business goals?  If so you are already behind for the year.  That analysis should have been done starting in mid-June using actuals through May and forecast for June.  The official books should be all but closed as a formality with no surprises and business reviews finalized.  You are now 3 weeks into the new quarter and second half of 2016.  Stop looking back.

Executing the plan is the business priority.

Assumptions:
  1. There is a clearly defined strategy and action plan.   Everyone is aligned and focused.
  2. It is still the right plan.  Nothing has changed.
  3. You have the right resources to execute.

Publishing a business/marketing calendar is a helpful way of staying on track.

  1. This calendar outlines a framework of the regular cycles for the business.
  2. It describes the business process and timing vs. the content.
  3. It gives visibility to timing and manages expectations of reporting to business stakeholders.

Whether the calendar is on a shared, electronic platform or an excel spreadsheet matters not. The important characteristics are that it is clearly articulated, accessible, and has organizational alignment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 9.12.59 AM

First Step? – Populate a calendar with all known business events for the next 18 months.

Consider a 3-year strategic plan with a rolling 18-month action plan.   Create an 18-month calendar outlining the business/marketing cadence as a framework and allow stakeholders to align their action plans so that the entire team is going forward on the same timing to achieve the plan.

Let me know if you need step-by-step help creating a cross-organizational cadence.

 

15+ Words to Describe Great Product Managers

Writing a resume or job description?
Preparing to interview a product manager candidate or be interviewed for a product manager job?

I was recently asked to identify characteristics of a great product manager.

If functional expertise is a given, then what are the characteristics that take a product manager from good to great?

Here are some of the words I l use to describe the great product managers I have known and with whom I have worked.

authenticauthentic

adjective ~ au·then·tic \ə-ˈthen-tik, ȯ-\
  • : real or genuine : not copied or false

  • : true and accurate

  • : an original

Conformity does not yield innovation.

curiositycurious

adjective ~ cu·ri·ous \ˈkyu̇r-ē-əs\
  • : having a desire to learn or know more about something or someone
    :  marked by desire to investigate and learn
    :  marked by inquisitive interest in others’ concerns

  • : strange, unusual, novel or unexpected

 

fearlessAN-ESSENTIAL-aspect-of-creativity-is-not-being-afraid-to-fail

adjective ~ fear·less \ˈfir-ləs\
  • : not afraid : very brave

  • : not being afraid to fail

inquisitiveQuestion_mark curious

adjective ~ in·quis·i·tive \in-ˈkwi-zə-tiv\
  • : tending to ask questions : having a desire to know or learn more

insightfulinsightful

adjective ~ inˈsītfəl /insītfəl/
  • :having or showing an accurate and deep understanding; perceptive.

intuitive, perceptive, discerning, penetrating, penetrative, astute, percipient,perspicacious, sagacious, wise, judicious, shrewd, sharp, sharp-witted, razor-sharp, keenincisive, acute, imaginative, appreciative, intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive, deep, profound

 

intuitive

intuitive brain

Credit: Pentera PGBuzz

 

adjective ~ in·tu·i·tive \in-ˈtü-ə-tiv, -ˈtyü-\
  • : having the ability to know or understand things without any proof or evidence : having or characterized by intuition

  • : based on or agreeing with what is known or understood without any proof or evidence : known or understood by intuition

  • : agreeing with what seems naturally right

Great product managers have a unique balance of left and right brain capabilities.

 

judicious

judicious decisive

getgoodinstitute.com

adjective ~ ju·di·cious \jü-ˈdi-shəs\
  • : having or showing good judgment

Judiciousness stresses a capacity for reaching wise decisions or just conclusions.

 

practical practical

adjective ~ prac·ti·cal  /praktək(ə)l/
  • : of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas.

Great product managers are practical, focused on actually doing something, yet I find them to have a quirky silliness and creative bent that sends them in innovative directions hidden from the view of the average mortal.

prudentprudent

adjective pru·dent \ˈprü-dənt\
  • : having or showing careful good judgment

  • : shrewd in the management of practical affairs

  • : marked by circumspection

  • : acting with or showing care and thought for the future.

     sensible, politic, advisable, well advised

 

relentlessextra-mile relentless

adjective ~ re·lent·less  /rəˈlen(t)ləs/

  • :oppressively constant; incessant.
  • :showing or promising no abatement of intensity, strength, or pace

sagacioussagacious

adjective ~ sa·ga·cious \sə-ˈgā-shəs\
  • : having or showing an ability to understand difficult ideas and situations and to make good decisions

 

sageexperience

adjective \ˈsāj\
  • :very wise through reflection, wide experience and great learning

 

sanesane

adjective ~ \ˈsān\
Sane stresses mental soundness, rationality, and levelheadedness

sapient Sapient

adjective ~ |sa·pi·ent|  /sā-pē-ənt/  [sey-pee-uh nt]
  • :wise, or appearing wise especially in the ways of being human

unpretentious

adjective un·pre·ten·tious \-ˈten(t)-shəs\
  • : not having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are : not pretentious

  • :not attempting to impress others with an appearance of greater importance, talent, or culture than is actually possessed.

  • :possessing humility in leadership

unaffectednatural, straightforward, open, honestsincere, frank

 

There are of course many other words to describe what makes these human beings great product managers.  These are some of my favorite.  Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

 

10 Essential Strategic Planning Tools

EXCERPTS FROM INSIGHTOVATION® STRATEGIC PLANNING WORKBOOK

WHERE TO PLAY SLIDEStrategy can be thought of as your organization’s playbook, spelling out “where to play” and ‘how to win” with your customers and consumers, and how you will beat others competing with you in the same arena.  

Developing and articulating strategy can be challenging.

Each functional role in the organization must be aligned and engaged in strategic activities in order for execution to be optimized and goals achieved.  Alignment and focus achieve productivity in terms of speed, efficiency, and strategic impact.  

A integrated systems approach to strategic planning and execution can be visualized by using a number of tools.

Here are 10 essential tools that can apply to every strategic planning process.

  1. Business model canvas
  2. Portfolio analysis
  3. Competitive landscape (strategy canvas)
  4. SWOT analysis
  5. Market segmentation schemes
  6. Cluster analysis
  7. Ansoff matrix
  8. White space mapping
  9. Voice of consumer/customer insights – value proposition
  10. Business and product line roadmaps

In the next several sections, we will discuss each of these tools and their application to developing strategy.  Come back for more!

Within Product Plans, Content Marketing Often Overlooked

calendarI have been a long-time user of the Integrated Marketing Plan and the resulting Integrated Marketing Calendar.  I came across this blog post written by Jacob Warwick in May, 2015, on Percolate.com.  I am sharing this post on Content Marketing and am thinking in terms of how content marketing planning and expertise is often overlooked by product managers and new product development professionals (NPDP certified).

Even the Product Development and Management Association’s (PDMA) NPDP certification doesn’t focus much on the importance of using content marketing as a way to engage with users to gather insights that can be translated into new or improved product development and the total product experience.

While the post is promoting Percolate’s SaaS solution (and there are many others to check out), the overall value proposition of content marketing, as a critical function, role, and vehicle in today’s marketing plans is made, and wise product marking managers will work to improve their understanding and expertise of this often overlooked part of the product experience.

product managers“wise product marking managers will work to improve their understanding and expertise of Content marketing, this often overlooked part of the product experience.”

HOW TO BUILD A CONTENT MARKETING EDITORIAL CALENDAR

https://blog.percolate.com/2015/05/how-to-build-an-editorial-calendar/

 Jacob Warwick – May 27th, 2015

We’ve all seen spreadsheets and templates of content calendars. These calendars tend to focus solely on creation due date and the day a story is published onto the brand’s blog, microsite or elsewhere. What’s often missing is how each piece of content should be produced and distributed, how each individual content piece connects to marketing’s broader branding objectives, which channels are most optimal for the specific content, any supporting media plan, and the best publishing cadence moving forward.

Without these elements, the typical content calendar tends to focus on filling gaps rather than the bigger picture, creating effective, consistent content at scale to drive customer actions. To build a more effective content calendar, make sure you address the brand, creation and distribution aspects of your marketing, all powerful capabilities we’ve built into our own integrated marketing calendar.

UNDERSTAND YOUR DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS

Distributing content and campaign creative can appear to be pretty straight forward at first—but when we take a deeper look at the tactics behind effective content distribution, the process starts to look much more complicated. Each of your distribution channels are home to unique features, evolving audience expectations, design format considerations, and other factors that can affect the cadence and strategy behind your content. Media planning and paid amplification adds an additional layer of complexity and collaboration, often with an external agency partner or team that’s separate from the content creation process.

With so many variables to keep in mind, it can be difficult to structure the best content scheduling process for your business. By analyzing how your audience interacts with your content on each channel and adapting your editorial calendar accordingly, you can build stronger messaging that aligns with your marketing and business goals.

Start by evaluating your current content on each of your distribution channels and take note of any data that indicates an important trend or insight into your content’s performance. Look for content and creative variations that drive the most interactions, conversions, or ranked highest on other guiding marketing metrics. Then work to identify common, recurring factors that might have led to the outperformance.

For example, Entrepreneur recently published a tweet that received over 150 retweets, well above their average tweet performance range of 70-80 retweets. The challenge for many marketers is understanding why certain content like this performs so much better.

Was it just a coincidence? Was it because the content was published on Saturday at 11:10am? Did Entrepreneur run it as a targeted Twitter Ads campaign? Or perhaps because it includes an inspirational quote, includes an image, a link, or a combination of all three? Was it because another Entrepreneur Twitter account retweeted the tweet? These are the types of questions you need to ask about your content, and should actively look to develop your own hypotheses around.

CREATE AN INTEGRATED TOPICS SYSTEM

Every good editorial system is built on an organized, thoughtful foundation of categories and topics. Newspapers (or the more modern digital publising organization or e-zine) divide their editorial across sections like Business, Sports and Entertainment, and brand publishers should approach their work in a similar way. At the brand level, what are the values, ideas and topics marketing should be talking about? Establish and formally document these topics, then use them as anchors to segment your content development.

For example, MasterCard organizes its brand publishing across 5 core topics:

  1. innovation and the future of payments,
  2. financial inclusion,
  3. safety and security,
  4. travel, and
  5. small business.

By committing to make Global Engagement Bureau a thought leadership engine across these five topics, MasterCard’s leadership ensured that its editorial focus was transparent and consistent across the organization, and relevant to its audience.

Once you’ve established and encoded high-level brand topics, you can start to develop and track sub-topics, which can act as links to specific products, seasons, campaign themes, SEO keywords, geographic markets, or creative approaches. Ultimately, the right topics system will be specific to your organizational structure, needs and marketing objectives, but it’s critically important to make sure your content calendar has a clear organization system that maps back to your brand and goals. Additionally, if your marketing planning relies on multiple calendars for different regions and/or agency relationships, standardize and centralize your calendar system into as few files, editorial rules and systems as possible.

ADAPT YOUR APPROACH BASED ON CLOSED-LOOP TESTING

To better understand how different factors and variables can affect your content’s performance, you should vary the days, topics and types of content you publish within your editorial calendar, then carefully track the results of your testing across channels. As you begin to gather and evaluate this data, you’ll be in a position to better identify how each content type, distribution channel, and communications or media strategy affects the performance of your campaigns.

Adjust your content and find formats that work well for your target audience, start to incorporate these notes into your content distribution guidelines within your editorial calendar.

Your editorial calendar should give you a view of both content creation and distribution aspects:

creative view in planner

By having this data documented in your editorial calendar, you can better maximize the efficiency and performance of your content. Evaluate each of your distribution channels until you have an editorial calendar that clearly details the type of content that should be created, the time your content should be published, the distribution networks where audience demographics are most relevant to your creative, and any paid amplification, targeting audiences or press syndication that will extend its reach.

In addition, plan to adapt your strategies as your company grows and learns from past content performance. Marketing trends and distribution networks are constantly evolving, particularly ones that are transitioning from web to mobile-first consumer usage. You should schedule time to analyze and review campaign performance at least once per month to account for these changes, as well as plan ahead for innovation with your next activations.

This type of organized, portfolio approach will help you continue to optimize your content creation and distribution tactics, as well as help your broader integrated marketing efforts stay ahead of industry trends. Although each brand and agency will have slightly different editorial calendar needs, by planning for both content creation and distribution in one central place, your team(s) can make more informed, collaborative decisions that achieve your objectives.

To summarize:

  1. Analyze how your content performs on each of your distribution channels; think about how comms and/or media strategies, content types, channel-specific audience demographics, and other unique characteristics affect your content’s performance.
  2. Design an informed editorial calendar by around a system of brand topics and sub-topics.
  3. Measure and reference your content’s performance data to optimize production or distribution steps and tactics. Remember that distribution channels will change over time, and your editorial calendar should proactively plan for these changes, not react to them.

Together, thoughtful use of these strategies and tactics will help you successfully define, develop, and deploy a marketing editorial system that effectively represents the brand, encourages creativity, scales across teams and geographies, and achieves your marketing objectives.

Picture credits: Green Life Designs, LinkedIn, Percolate

6 Steps to End the Fight Club Mentality in Your Portfolio Team

INSIGHTOVATION®

office-fight

Is Everyone Fighting for Resources?

6 Steps to Better Portfolio Management

1. Have a standing cross-organizational portfolio team:

A Portfolio Analysis and Recommendation Team – ‘PART’ with a structure, process, cadence,  measures, metrics and portfolio goals will create an efficient and credible environment for portfolio issues to be managed.  The PART Team must know the overall business strategy and work to deliver the strategy by establishing functional department strategies and product-line strategies.

2. Develop and define product-line strategies:  

With organization and management input, define product-line strategies within the portfolios so they are clear to the organization and the cross-organizational project teams.  Without this critical information the teams will not be aligned on ‘where to play and how to win’ at each point of the functional strategies.  Create leverage for your product lines by developing them with a product-line platform approach.

Here is a link to a white paper discussing the…

View original post 432 more words

Signs your NPD process is stuck in the 1980s

1980s

Your NPD process is stuck in the 80s when…

  1. Your organization still calls it ‘stage-gate’.
  2. Your teams think NPD is about project management.
  3. Your portfolio of projects consists of an Excel spreadsheet.
  4. Projects get into the process and never get killed.
  5. Concepts are generated from random brainstorming or are management pet projects.
  6. Your product line roadmap is a powerpoint that someone from marketing created.

A marketing friend of mine called me last week to complain about the behavior of his executive team during a recent gate meeting.  The gate meeting turned into a senior leadership debate on business and product line strategy.

The senior leadership team declared the stage-gate process broken and wanted to shut everything down to fix it.  wrong way

My friend was frustrated and indicated they didn’t have an innovation problem or even a lack of ideas.  He indicated they knew how to run a project effectively through the development process.  Clearly, NPD was not working though.  What was the problem?

The answer, I explained to my friend,  was that they did not have a stage-gate process problem.  Instead, they had a product line strategy and roadmapping problem.  There was no alignment on product line strategy and no working product line roadmap that guided new products into the pipeline, allowed decisions to be made on product projects, or a process for projects that didn’t meet strategic and risk criteria to be killed.  Without that alignment, gatekeepers and portfolio managers have no framework in which to make decisions.  What a mess!

When everyone knows it’s not working, and no one knows how to get it back on track, “Where do you start?”

Let’s go back and look at some of the components of the new product development (NPD) process.  Phase-gated and stage-gated new product development processes are only subprocesses of a full architecture of NPD and innovation.  If any of these subprocesses are suboptimal then your results will not be as strong as they could be, you are not gaining the benefits,  and the competition may be winning the game.

The full architecture of NPD and innovation links the following processes together:
  1. Business strategy
  2. Product line strategy
  3. Product line roadmapping
  4. Concept generation
  5. Stage gate project management
  6. Lifecycle management
  7. Portfolio management

Let’s start with my friend’s executive declared ‘stage-gate’ problem. Gated processes have been around for decades now.  They started in the 1950s with NASA and have gained momentum  in industry since the 1960s.  Over the past 30 years these processes  have become a mainstream staple of new product development project management.

The stage-gate type process lays out an effective way to manage a single project at a time.

turtle catching-up

The gated process is considered by many practitioners to be mature in its lifecycle.  Because of its mature lifecycle, many companies have come to understand that stage-gate alone is inadequate to achieve strategic new product development and innovation goals.  If your company is stuck at the stage-gate capability level you have some catching up to do.

While the stage-gate type process helps streamline work flow, information flow, and decision flow of single projects, it is portfolio management that allows organizations to manage sets of many projects effectively, especially given the usual constraints of time and money.  When trade-offs need to be made and resources need to allocated, it is portfolio management that optimizes the allocation of human resources, expense dollars, and capital expense, to achieve the product line and business strategy.  If your portfolio management still consists of rolling up a list of projects into a view and report-out of all projects, and stops there, your company may need to take portfolio management, portfolio analysis, scenario building, and portfolio recommendations for management decision, to the next level.  

Using portfolio management work flow and information flow to make strategic portfolio decisions is critical to maximizing your creation of value and conversion of products to cash flow.  

How-to-increase-conversion-rate-by-effective-landing-pageCould  your company be behind in utilizing these best practices?  If so, you may be missing the point of portfolio management, and not capturing the maximum value of an optimized portfolio.

In order to make portfolio recommendations, portfolio managers, analysts, and review teams need to have a framework from which to reference the gaps in the product line and business strategy.  This is what product line roadmapping provides.

house_of_cards

However, if the product line roadmap is simply a powerpoint created by someone from marketing, without cross organizational input and alignment, then the framework is a house of cards that has not been embedded into the organization and is not understood by the senior leadership team.

In addition, without the framework of the product line strategy and product line roadmaps, concept generation is random and not targeted to the gaps in your strategic plan and you increase the risk of missing your goals.

Roadmapping links the front end, stage-gate, and the portfolio to product line strategy to carry out the execution of business strategy for the purpose of converting products to cash flow.

My marketing friend asked if they really had to shut everything down to fix the process.  The answer is NO.  Companies build skills in these areas in parallel and one level of capability at a time.  If a company conducted the implementation of each of these subprocesses sequentially it would take decades to gain the benefits.  This frustrated marketer was relieved.  I gave him an outline of areas on which to focus to help move his organization to the next level.

How to start:

  1. Everyone needs to be involved.  Form a cross functional and cross organizational team to assess capabilities.
  2. Conduct work in parallel.  Build capabilities in each sub process in of the full architecture of NPD one level at a time.
  3. Keep it simple.  Don’t burden the organization with unnecessary steps.

Are you ready to take your NPD process out of the 80s and use the current best practices to create maximum value for your company?  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get going!

Are You Using Channel Marketing For Greater Sales Results?

This is timely Greg,
I was just in a discussion about Channel Marketing yesterday. From my product marketing perspective, and at a very high level, I explain product marketing as ‘where we play and how we win with our consumers’ and channel marketing as ‘where we play and how we win with our customers.’ Thanks for putting some meat around the topic.

Channel Instincts - A Marketing Blog By Greg Bonsib

Be CuriousChannel marketing is one of the least understood roles in marketing.

Channel marketers walk a fine line between sales and marketing. But that also allows channel marketers to have a unique perspective in the organization by:

  • Intimately understanding the distribution channel and knowing the needs and priorities of their customers – and their customers’ customers.
  • Being able to build a compelling story as to why their new products and programs will help build their customer’s sales and profits

What are channel marketing’s key roles and activities with Sales?

Channel Marketing Drives Sales SuccessChannel marketing goes by many other names: customer marketing, trade marketing even sales support or admin are other names for the same role. Regardless of what it’s called, the goals for channel marketing are designed to minimize the conflicts with sales.

  • Making the flow of information work for sales, not against them
  • Removing repetitive information requests
  • Building a faster process between questions…

View original post 359 more words

How to make your CEO a believer in NPD and Innovation!

whizard-1My friend Mark Mitchell, of Whizard Strategy recently wrote a blog post on

‘How to make your CEO a fan of marketing’

and shed light on the number of CEO’s who mistrust their CMOs.  He quoted John Wanamaker who famously said, “I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half.”  … and added “this pretty much sums up how CEO’s and CFO’s think about marketing”.  

Mark Mitchell called out an article on that supports how 70% of CEO’s don’t trust their Chief Marketing Officers.  Read the article Mark cites at Marketing Week Article.

maureen-carlson

This reminded me of another article I recently read on new product development and innovation, based on a recently released benchmark survey, that points to some significant improvements needed in the area of NPD and innovation processes for the majority of companies.   The executive management in charge of these companies must feel exactly the same about the quality and maturity of their new product development and innovation people, process, tools and investment.


Read this article by 
 at InnovationManagement.se for yourself and register for the full report.

Findings from the Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey

NPD and innovation managers, who are we kidding?  We have to get faster, more efficient and have more strategic impact to gain the needed resources.

office-fightMy own recent blog discussed the portfolio team feeling like a fight club.  Everyone is fighting for resources.  The CEO or executive one level up has to become the referee and has to choose how to best invest the company’s money to achieve the portfolio growth goals.  Teams want more resources, people, time, tools, capital and expenses.   Yet we deal in a economy where there are constraints on most or all of these.  As Mark states:

The IT person wants new software that he is sure will improve the bottom line.  The operations people want to invest in the plants to improve efficiency.  Sales management wants to add more salesmen.  HR wants to invest in training.  And then there is marketing…

I am an NPDP certified new product development professional so I have one more to add…

…and then there is new product development and innovation.  These NPD requests for resources go deep and are cross organizational.  Whose budget is it anyway?  Many departments make convincing cases for their departmental needs however when it is cross organizational and a strategic initiative, the stakes, risks and rewards are higher and more complex.  How do decisions get made?  Your CEO needs your help here.

Here’s how to make your CEO a believer in spending on people, processes and tools for new product development and innovation.

1.   Stop using meaningless terms, like innovation!  This seems contradictory.  The reason to stop using the term innovation is that it is an overused buzzword, means something different to everyone in the room, creates debate and discourse and has little discrete value without a lot more information that is rarely provided at the time the term is being tossed about the room.  Stay crystallized in your message to the CEO.  Talk about business results and how to get there.  Innovation is not the end game.  Innovation happens by the use of a group of sub-processes that produce business results.

The benchmark study, that Ms. Carlson cites, reports that a major pain point to these processes is speed (56%).  Other to pain points include resource allocation to the wrong products through missing VOC data or not cutting low impact projects in favor of supporting those with higher impact (52%), and product portfolios that are not aligned well enough with company strategies and objectives resulting in ineffective decision-making (53%).

2. Get rid of the silos and align around product line strategies.  Create a cross organizational team to define product line strategies.  Listen to all the functional roles involved, internal and external to confirm strategic thinking.   Ask customers and consumers what their biggest challenges are.  Be specific.  Get your organization outside of the building to see the problems customer and consumers face directly, including the CEO.  Learn what the competition is doing.

3.  risk fail roadmapCreate product line roadmaps.  Once you have this knowledge embedded in the team, you are in a position to create product line road maps that provide targets for your product development.   You have a way to show the CEO where you are going, why, and how it will achieve the business strategy and growth plans.  You can demonstrate the problem and the solution.  

4.  Involve the executive management in the process. When you involve the CEO and executive management in the process at the right place and time you will find yourself doing more than asking for more money.  You become an advisor and informed expert who can recommend the optimal path to achieve the strategic goal.

5. Make everything measurable and simple.  The benchmark study indicated the lack of hard data provided to CEOs to make smart strategic decisions.   Ms. Carlson reported on data:

…more than 80% of companies are supporting decision making with poor and/or hard to access data. This makes it difficult for leaders to make the tough decisions, such as what new initiatives to fund and which ones to kill.

Mr Mitchell stated that smart CEOs know that the data is poor and expect some bullshit when functions try to gain resources for their projects.  Gone are the days..

“We have to do it” or “We’ve always done it.”  Everything should have a measurable outcome.

6. Don’t underestimate cultural inertia and short term focus.  Ms. Carlson reports..

More than 70% reported that their leadership is averse to risk and equates killing products with failure. In fact, overall risk aversion is growing steadily. Too few are rewarded for taking calculated risks, which is the bedrock of innovation.

Convert your CEO to be a believer in product development not a referee of squabbling siblings. Take some of these steps today and behave your way into a leadership position by  improving your organization’s cross organizational performance instead of an attitude of fighting for an undeserved entitlement from a suspicious parent.

For more on the subject of product line strategies and roadmaps, see http://www.adept-plm.com.