This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal included a neatly illustrated article by Joe Queenan on the dearth of imagination in Hollywood in 2010. The Worst Movie Year Ever? lamented recent storytelling efforts in Tinstletown, painting a picture of movie theaters around the country where audiences sit “listlessly through a series of lame, mechanical trailers for upcoming films that look exactly like the DOA movies audiences avoided last week.” I’m familiar with the feeling that the popcorn is the only thing to be happy about in theaters this summer. But as I was thinking about it, I started to wonder: is Queenan simply describing the state of entertainment, or is he actually providing a metaphor for the state of business lately?
While the Penn State scandal and abdication of leadership is deplorable and unfortunately merits its sad attention, what happened at the venerable University of Virginia this spring is, in another way, astounding. It laid bare the unrelenting business assault roiling educational institutions, their custodians and their brands.
How many times have you been in a meeting and someone says to you, “That’s a great idea, you should take the initiative and make it a reality.” What typically happens?
One of the most courageous acts of leadership is to forgo the temptation to take revenge on those on the other side of an issue or those who opposed the leader's rise to power.
Large companies like IBM, Syngenta, Procter & Gamble, 3M, and Unilever show that innovation can be a repeatable discipline. Yet, with all of this progress it still feels like a positive surprise when you see a large company confidently approach the challenges of innovation.
A larger purpose isn't just good karma. Leaders who instill their company with a greater mission have more motivated employees and more loyal customers.
To Starbucks, baristas are not just baristas--they are ambassadors of brand, merchants of romance, disciples of delight. The company recently invested millions in a "Leadership Lab" designed to drill that message in for 9,600 store managers. So did it work?
Venture capitalists exhibit some strange behaviors, but none is more bizarre than the near-inevitable scheming to remove a company's founder-CEO. Odder still is that these plans are often hatched just as the company begins to really perform.
In the race to find culpability, what doesn't get talked about is the very climate that creates the conditions for people to behave badly and feel perfectly justified in their behavior. It is, in fact, the very same thing that creates an environment and provides the fuel for people to conversely do great, generous and far-reaching things. It boils down to cultural permission.
It’s impossible to become a great business leader without being a great communicator—not a big talker, but a great communicator—as well. Famous entrepreneurs are known for their skilled communication with employees, vendors, investors and clients. It is one of the most vital traits they must have. Whether the news is positive or negative, they know it is best to be forthright, honest and timely. They know that people appreciate transparency and truth.
A monumental question for leaders in any organization to consider is: How much greatness are we willing to grant people? Because it makes all the difference at every level who it is we decide we are leading. The activity of leadership is not limited to conductors, presidents, and CEOs, of course — the player who energizes the orchestra by communicating his newfound appreciation for the tasks of the conductor, or a parent who fashions in her own mind that her children desire to contribute, is exercising leadership of the most profound kind.
Most leaders are unbalanced. They are relatively stronger in some areas than others. The secret to making them more productive is to let them play to their strengths, while at the same time bringing in someone to work with them that has complementary strengths.
At one time or another all great leaders experience something so big and so impactful it literally changes the landscape – it’s what I call a “Game Changer.” A game changer is that ah-ha moment where you see something others don’t. It’s the transformational magic that takes organizations from a slow idle to redline.
Integrating design into your company involves more than just hiring superstar designers. It takes a long-term commitment and developing a culture that brings everyone up to speed.
Adam Lashinsky's new book Inside Apple offers lots of intriguing material about Steve Jobs and the strategic choices, design principles, and business tactics that created the most valuable company on earth. But for all of Lashinsky's behind-the-scenes material about Apple's legendary leader, it was a public story about Apple's new leader, CEO Tim Cook, that captured my attention — and offered a powerful insight for leaders everywhere looking to create value in their organizations.
What ideas are you building your company on? It’s an important question for all organizations, and some companies are responding with innovative and inspiring answers. Ideas shape our thinking, animate our endeavors, and serve as the foundation upon which we scale our institutions and companies.
The role of business linguist for the CMO is probably one of the more challenging aspects of the job. Translating marketing value and priority to other areas of the corporate enterprise, if done ineffectively or ignored, can lead to disaster.
Tom Brady and Eli Manning will square off this Super Bowl Sunday as the two quarterbacks tasked with leading their teams to a championship. Brady and Manning both possess many leadership and athletic qualities that have led them to the top of their sport and to this game. However, one of the primary skills of each of these quarterbacks is an in-depth knowledge of his teammates, and in particular the receivers who are supposed to be on the other end of the quarterback’s passes. That knowledge allows these two elite quarterbacks to play at the highest level and make the people around them better, which is an essential leadership skill in football or business.
Most every company says it values its customers, and hates to 'walk away' from them. Leaders are called on to make tough decisions they believe are in the best interests of their companies. And sometimes, these decisions advantage some customers at the expense of others. That doesn't make them bad decisions, just risky ones. But leaders of some of our greatest brands act like they have forgotten (or never knew) what every junior brand manager surely knows --- to test potentially risky messages and find ways to mitigate their negative impact. Instead, senior leaders are acting like bulls in a china shop, awkwardly and prematurely broadcasting their strategic decisions in ways that destroy their company's (and their own) reputation and value.
Senior management teams set the course for their organizations and are often the leaders who first recognize when big change is needed. These teams are also often made up of people with drastically different styles, personalities, and visions. Bringing these voices into alignment around key goals and opportunities is the essential first step toward accelerating strategic results for the organization.
Diversity management is the key to growth in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace. No longer can America’s corporations hide behind their lack of cultural intelligence. Organizations that seek global market relevancy must embrace diversity – in how they think, act and innovate. Diversity can no longer just be about making the numbers, but rather how an organization treats its people authentically down to the roots of its business model. In today’s new workplace, diversity management is a time-sensitive business imperative.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a conflict with someone in my work life. I felt he had clearly violated an agreement we'd made. My first reaction was righteous indignation. In this case, I believed the person at work had acted badly. I was right, and he was wrong. My goal was to get him to see it my way. A few days later, we had a chance to sit down together. Not surprisingly, the conversation was awkward at first. Then, to my surprise, as he explained himself, I felt myself beginning to understand why he made the choice he did.
We have entered a Golden Age of marketing technology. There are now thousands of software applications built for nearly every aspect of marketing. We have more choices, with more capabilities, at more attractive economics, than ever before. Yet most marketing organizations today lack the technical leadership to fully harness this power.
The seventh tenet of the Marketers' Constitution states that marketing professionals must become better, highly skilled, diverse leaders. As an industry, we do not spend enough time, energy and effort fostering the talents, skills and continuous development of marketing professionals. To further our goals of building brands and driving business results, we must attract and nurture people who are completely customer-centric in their orientation, holistic in their view of marketing and media choices, innovative and creative in their thinking, and who are articulate and effective in their personal communications.
Eliminating co-pilots; offering standing-only cabins; asking customers to work the baggage conveyor belt – these are the things Michael O’Leary dreams of. As CEO of Ryanair, O’Leary loves to propose provocative potential developments for his airline. Does he do it because he’s a rabble-rousing PR machine or because he’s a shrewd businessman – or both? I don’t know. But I do know that I both hate his brand and love it at the same time.
Mark Hurd served as the CEO of HP since 2005. He was known on Wall Street as a cost-cutter. Cost cutters tend to be loved for their short-term financial gains, but there is a flaw to their management style in that they typically find it difficult to build the long-term value of their corporate brand. I have no comment on Hurd's conduct that caused him to be fired but I do find it interesting that the board voted 6-4 to fire him based on the advice of a public relations consultant. Was the Board concerned about the corporate reputation of HP? Or, as Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle, said, "the HP Board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple Board fired Steve Jobs many years ago."
I couldn’t agree more that we should take creativity “out of the art room and into the home room.” And we should start by looking to art education as a model. The National Inventors Hall of Fame school’s success in “project-based learning” emulates the studio model that has existed and been refined in art schools for hundreds of years. Learning through making actual objects in a studio equips artists and designers with the curiosity, open-ended inquiry, problem solving, critical thinking and critical making skills that are key to creative contributions. These methods are the most promising pathway available for cultivating creativity in future generations, whether kids grow up to be bankers, medical professionals or politicians.
With reports that the oil gusher in the Gulf is nearly kaput, BP's new CEO announced Friday that the company would scale back its cleanup efforts in areas where there is no more oil. Makes sense. Still bad for the brand, though. There are two problems with which BP must contend, one situational and the other conceptual.
If you look at the world today, it’s devoid of enough true leaders. We used to have so many. This troubles me. What has happened? Is it because people don’t want to step up to the higher responsibilities of leadership, or don’t know how to be great leaders?
The rock-star CMO is dead, but the post-rock-star CMO is quietly living pretty large. The era of the high-profile, big-personality, high-production-value chief marketing officer -- which was already going wobbly as the recession began -- has ended definitively with the departures in the past year of the likes of Unilever's Simon Clift and Kodak's Jeff Hayzlett. Yet the less-ostentatious personalities that increasingly populate CMO slots have something their rock-star forbears lacked: power.
A brand crisis can take many forms, which can linger differing lengths of time, depending on the survivability of the brand. Every corporate brand crisis is unique; each has a starting point when the CEO becomes responsible for the survival of the company. BP's bumbling management of its Gulf crisis, its seemingly endless decision-making process, not to mention post-crisis effects that will last decades, make this crisis unprecedented. Tyco, Texaco, Dynegy, IBM, Enron, Worldcom and Citigroup are a few of the crises we've studied. Some companies survived not only intact but emerged stronger than ever. Others were destroyed, or forced to merge. A handful limped on, weakened but not ruined.
I watched with growing dismay and disbelief as Steve Jobs struggled through his press conference last week about the iPhone 4 dropped calls. It's a classic example of how not to conduct public relations.
General Electric has launched a private online community for its global network of 5,000 marketers. An intramural social networking platform called MarkNet, the program is designed to connect marketers from different GE divisions who normally wouldn't speak to each other because they belong to different marketing silos.
Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is legendary for its employee culture and customer service. Paying employees to quit; offering customers free shipping both ways and a year to make returns; and hiring 24/7 phone reps who are as courteous, kind, and upbeat as Four Seasons concierges are all part of the Zappos formula. When I caught up with CEO Tony Hsieh in California a few months ago, we spoke about how his company's culture came to be, and about selling the company to Amazon for $850 million last summer (a deal now worth more than $1 billion with the appreciation of Amazon's stock).
What do senior management executives at CPG companies and retailers think about corporate social media strategies? Top executives were probed on this topic, along with many others, as part of the research for a just-released 2010 Grocery Manufacturers Association/PricewaterhouseCoopers financial performance report -- and the insights gleaned are more specific and practical than marketers might imagine.
Many departments within a corporation will argue the need for accountability in marketing, but none steps forward to take ownership of how to account for brand equity. Theoretically, the CEO is responsible for the value of the corporate brand. Unfortunately, it is a rare CEO who understands how brand equity value is created. CEOs would love to see their company prosper, but few understand how to take command or utilize the tools available to make it so.
On Wednesday, May 26, 2010, just after 2:30 p.m., the unthinkable happened: Apple became the largest company in the tech universe, and, after ExxonMobil, the second largest in the nation. For months, its market capitalization had hovered just under that of Microsoft -- the giant that buried Apple and then saved it from almost certain demise with a $150 million investment in 1997. Now Microsoft gets in line with Google, Amazon, HTC, Nokia, and HP as companies that Apple seems bent on sidelining. The one-time underdog from Cupertino is the biggest music company in the world and soon may rule the market for e-books as well. What's next? Farming? Toothbrushes? Fixing the airline industry? Right now, it seems as if Apple could do all that and more. The company's surge over the past few years has resembled a space-shuttle launch -- a series of rapid, tightly choreographed explosions that leave everyone dumbfounded and smiling. The whole thing has happened so quickly, and seemed so natural, that there has been little opportunity to understand what we have been witnessing.
Once, chief marketing officers built brands. Now, their primary duty is communicating what the brand means for the financial well-being of the firm -- and they are going to need to be increasingly skilled at that going forward. Marketers of the future "are going to have to speak the language of the rest of the organization," said David Reibstein, professor of marketing at the Wharton School.
The ongoing tragedy of BP’s well disaster makes me both sad and mad at the same time, and I’ve been trying to think if there is anything useful to learn from this difficult situation. As I’ve been reading about the tragedy, I think there are at least three things that leaders who are performing large scale innovations can learn from.
As BP's shares continue sliding in trading on London's FTSE, its social media outreach and search engine marketing is being criticized as off the mark. Part of the problem, argues the Financial Times, is the British oil giant's "cultural failings" and "shortage of native knowledge of America and how it responds to crisis has been painfully exposed."
BP's chief said the company could have done more to prepare for a deepwater oil leak, as the British oil giant met with affected residents Thursday and embarked on fresh efforts to stem the vast slick now threatening the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. BP PLC Chief Executive Tony Hayward has come under mounting pressure over the spill, caused after a drilling rig BP was leasing, the Deepwater Horizon, caught fire and sank last month. The accident killed 11 workers and raised fears of widespread ecological damage.
Your gut is overrated. Really. Don't trust it. It deserves skeptical vigilance, not quiet deference. In the heat of the moment or — sorry, Malcolm — the blink of an eye, your gut instincts and gut feelings will betray you. No business cliché is more worthy of repudiation, annihilation, and eradication than "you've got to trust your gut."
The environment for marketers is changing dramatically. Marketing's leadership in driving business success has never been more in demand, and those who have demonstrably begun to expand mindsets, skills and capabilities are setting the standard. The difference this shift makes has never been more evident than during the bleakness of the lingering recession. Businesses whose marketing leaders have embraced its components may not have emerged unscathed, but they at least have found themselves entering 2010 with substantial positive momentum.
In business and in life we set all kinds of goals — build a company, meet sales objectives, be a supportive manager — and then we define a strategy for achieving that goal. The goal is the destination; the strategy is our trail to get there. Only sometimes we get so absorbed in the trail — in how we're going to achieve the goal, in our method or process — that we lose sight of the destination, of where we were going in the first place. And we walk right by the opportunities that would have propelled us forward toward our planned destination.
Some ideas are a banquet. They go on and on, and invite us to consider what they really mean for hours or days - or sometimes much much longer. Then there are the flashes of insight. The quick sparks that we immediately react to and understand when we hear or see or touch them. These are the types of ideas I wish I could find and share more often. Ideas that inspire in a moment. Starting a movement, for most people, is much more complicated than just having an idea. If you happen to work in a place where this is part of your goal, your questions are often about stakeholders and messages and creating something "viral." We are all seeking the formula that turns that idea into a movement.
Back when Apple was first an entrepreneurial wonder and I was a baby consultant often in Cupertino, I used to think of Apple in baseball analogies. Apple was the Boston Red Sox, exciting and colorful but doomed to be second to IBM's New York Yankee-like deep pockets and market domination. Not any longer. The tech leagues have expanded, and while IBM is still a powerhouse, it does not play in consumer markets. Apple is now a game-definer and game-changer, in major consumer segments.
Today's consumers are more intuitive, more informed, more skeptical and more demanding than ever. They live in a world of immense choice and personalization. They want the benefits of increased choice without the complexity of increased choice. With the economic anxiety of our times, there is a growing generation of shoppers for whom frugality is fashionable. These changes are tailor-made for the talents of marketers. But marketers be warned: We need to be concerned about the degradation of marketing. We must redefine it--or be part of its deadly decline.
In this Brand Innovator Spotlight, Bert DuMars talks about how breaking down the silos and collaborating with consumers is keeping a century old company successful in the digital age. Bert DuMars is VP E-Business & Interactive Marketing for Newell Rubbermaid, a global marketer of consumer and commercial products including Sharpie, Graco and Irwin Industrial Tools. Since 2007, Mr. DuMars has been responsible for directing and coordinating eMarketing, eCommerce and Social Media Marketing initiatives for Newell Rubbermaid’s externally-facing online efforts.
Estée Lauder Cos. CEO Fabrizio Freda, only the second nonfamily member to lead the company since its founding in 1946, would like to change the way department stores sell cosmetics. Mr. Freda wants to woo customers who are still hesitant to splurge on upscale cosmetics. To make shopping less intimidating, some beauty counters now display prices, loosening a taboo. He is also designing counters to cater to varied shopping preferences.
Close your eyes and listen to the fight. One side says we have to change the way we do things now and the other warns grimly that if we do, the end result will be the Dark Ages. This isn't Washington, D.C., but the Madison Avenue echo chamber, with corporate America pushing for cost consciousness and efficiency from its ad agencies and those agencies railing against companies' bean counters being sicced on them. With each soul-crushing Ad Age item about the rising influence of procurement departments, creatives' agita rises.
Apple is famous for not engaging in the focus-grouping that defines most business product and marketing strategy. Which is partly why Apples products and advertising are so insanely great. They have the courage of their own convictions, instead of the opinions of everyone else's whims. On the subject, Steve Jobs loves to quote Henry Ford who once said that if he had asked people what they wanted they would have said "a faster horse."
Several years ago, my colleague Dave Ulrich and I looked at how leaders build value by building employee confidence in the future. Our findings bear revisiting as companies begin to emerge after the devastation of the last 18 months and work to create new value.
Innovation is undoubtedly the ‘secret sauce’ of business success. The good news is, the ability to innovate is a learnable skill — at least according to three researchers from INSEAD, Brigham Young and Harvard in their new study conducted over a six-year period. ‘Our research showed that at most companies, top executives do not feel personally responsible for coming up with strategic innovations,’ said Hal Gregersen of INSEAD. ‘True innovators rely on their courage to innovate and a willingness to take risks.’
"I have a dream" by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the most famous speeches of recent history. Aspiring leaders study it to see how memorable words that sketch a big, compelling vision can inspire significant change. But four words are not the measure of the man. There is much more to learn from his actions. King, whose birthday is commemorated by a U.S. federal holiday on the third Monday of each January, delivered that speech during a March on Washington in the summer of 1963. The rally attracted a record-breaking quarter of a million supporters for civil rights and against racial discrimination. It provided impetus for passage of equal rights legislation and the dismantling of formal trapping of segregation.
The next interview in the B2B Marketing thought leader interview series is with Christine Crandell, one of the most innovative thinkers I've met on the topics of sales and marketing alignment and marketing accountability. Christine sits on several advisory boards including Coupa and SDForum, and has held senior marketing positions at Egenera, Ariba, and many others. Her thoughts on organization and how marketing can earn credibility and "go toe-to-toe" with sales leadership are definitely worth reading.
This interview with Tony Hsieh, the chief executive of Zappos.com, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant. Q. What are some of the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned? A. After college, a roommate and I started a company called LinkExchange in 1996, and it grew to about 100 or so people, and then we ended up selling the company to Microsoft in 1998. From the outside, it looked like it was a great acquisition, $265 million, but most people don’t know the real reason why we ended up selling the company.
Coca-Cola today has a market capitalization in excess of $100 billion because the perceived value of its brand is significantly higher than the sum total of all the assets of the company. In my years with Procter & Gamble and Heinz, I have come to realize that no matter what the product or service, the key principles for building a great brand remain the same. By staying true to these seven principles, a marketer can weather economic highs and lows while building an iconic brand for target consumers.
A friend of mine attended a City University of New York reading recently from a new anthology of Central and Eastern European plays from the 1980s. Three of the playwrights in attendance that Monday night -- a Slovenian, a Hungarian, and a Romanian -- shared their views. All had written as dissidents and subversives until communism fell. They said that behind the Iron Curtain, one knew one's enemies and those commanding one's life. But, as my friend recounted, their opinion was that now, in the West, "Do you know any longer who's in charge?"
When it was announced in June 2009 that Robert McDonald would replace A.G. Lafley as chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble, investors and employees alike found themselves asking, Who is Bob McDonald? Putting that wonder aside, McDonald has already done well delivering a greater than 20% increase in P&G's stock price since becoming CEO in June. Now that he is slated to become chairman of the board on Jan. 1, 2010, what can his past actions tell us about what he values most and how he will continue to guide the 182-year-old consumer products company into the uncertain economic future?
"We do have a conscious say in selecting the narrative we will use to make sense of the world," writes New York Times columnist David Brooks. "Individual responsibility is contained in the act of selecting and constantly revising the master narrative we tell about ourselves." Brooks' explanation about choice of narrative can apply to leaders seeking ways to navigate our recession. The relentless tide of bad news may tempt those in charge to adopt a pessimistic view point, but leaders owe it to their followers to spread optimism. Without excluding reality, leaders need to inspire not simply hope, but also resilience. Storytelling can help in this effort. Here are some suggestions for crafting your own story to make sense of adversity.
Bad news isn't bad wine. It doesn't improve with age. According to Bain & Co, 80% of CEOs think their brands offer a superior experience, but only 8% of their consumers agreed. AOL seemed to have gleaned that fact. AOL's running man (logo) had already run off the cliff, revealing a brand that was desecrated, unoriginal, normalized and downtrodden. The business goal of any brand is to create more users, new users or new uses by continually innovating to add value to customer's lives. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong needs to ask himself: What is AOL's true brand ambition? What does he wish his AOL brand to be capable of achieving? With great brands come great benefits -- including higher customer loyalty, increased opportunities and elevated profits.
A broken brand is a business that has no idea where it’s going; has no way of communicating its purpose (since none exists); and therefore cannot align its activities nor inspire its people. It’s in disorder. And this disorder leads to people walking around concluding that no one cares and that no one is in charge. Employees may see problems or opportunities, but they stop complaining and suggesting ideas, since they’re convinced management can’t do anything, or won’t. I’ve read the results of recent surveys, which showed that fewer than 10 percent of employees believe their daily activities are actually related to corporate goals. That’s pitiful.
March Madness lasts only three weeks, but Metric Madness goes on all year long. What is Metric Madness? It's the notion you can run anything by the numbers, and it's become the hottest concept in business today.
According to David Aaker, today's CMO may wear up to five potential hats: facilitator, consultant, service provider, strategic partner, strategic captain. "The CMO and the central marketing group can assume a spectrum of roles," says Aaker, author of Spanning Silos: The New CMO Imperative. "The roles of the CMO can and often will vary with the activity and the silo, and additionally, will evolve over time."
Deciding whether to adopt a customer-centric orientation is a significant decision for organizations, not to be made casually. It results in debates defining customer centricity, often with the question, "How customer-centric do we need to be?" Inevitably, it means organizing around the customer and the further proliferation of the types of marketing needed to do so effectively. The many companies that have embraced a customer-centric orientation have experienced some real and often unexpected challenges. At the center of these challenges is the role of the chief marketing officer -- the person who needs to deliver thought leadership, lead the strategy debate and reorganization, and then integrate the various marketing types into a company-wide, customer-centric orientation.
North of the Arctic Circle, a top priority for fishermen is to catch and dry enough char to last the winter. Fishermen near the equator race to market before insects and bacteria spoil their catch. Climate is the driving factor shaping these vastly different fishing practices. In many corporations, the same is true for marketing and IT departments.
India's Tata Group has made innovation part of its DNA, setting up a way for handling new ideas and making creative thinking a performance criterion.
General Motors’ new advertising and marketing czar is Bob Lutz, who until April of this year headed global product development. According to CEO Fritz Henderson: “Bob’s responsibilities beyond creative design will include brands, marketing, advertising and communications.” (I can visualize Bob at his first meeting with one of GM’s agencies: “I’m not a marketing expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”)
The focus on the role of the leader in society has been at the heart of the development of much of modern political and social thought. Aristotle captured the essence of the proposition of the “altruistic” or “virtuous” leader: "But since we say that the virtue of the citizen and ruler is the same as that of the good man and that the same person must first be a subject and then a ruler, the legislator has to see that they become good men and by what means this may be accomplished." But for the want of a few good men (and women) at the top of the world’s financial services industry and its regulators, the world’s economic system was nearly destroyed. Now, business leaders are as ill-regarded as politicians. Indeed, there is a crisis of confidence in them that is global and worsening.
Amazon just announced that they're spending $800,000,000.00 (looks better that way) to buy Zappos.com. But wait. Amazon already has plenty of shoes. Amazon already has great technology. Amazon already has relationships with Fedex and UPS. What you buy when you spend that kind of money is what matters now.
People ask me all the time about the success of McDonalds, HP, Virgin America, and Walmart with new products and services, and their ongoing buzz. For me one key factor is the strength of their marketing leadership and the fact that their CMOs have an active seat at the C-Level table.
It would be profoundly reassuring to view the current economic crisis as simply another rough spell that we need to get through. Unfortunately, though, today’s mix of urgency, high stakes, and uncertainty will continue as the norm even after the recession ends. Economies cannot erect a firewall against intensifying global competition, energy constraints, climate change, and political instability. The immediate crisis—which we will get through, with the help of policy makers’ expert technical adjustments—merely sets the stage for a sustained or even permanent crisis of serious and unfamiliar challenges.
In no place has the seismic illumination of communication as an innovation been more punctuated than the Obama administration. Yes, while smart and astute policy adjustments and groundbreaking new lawmaking have been vital to our nation's healing, so, too, has been the manner in which these transformative changes have been communicated.
I’m sure you’ve heard the definition of madness: Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. But have you heard of the "First Rule of Holes?” When you’re in one, stop digging! I see it all the time. Organizations are lost, but they’re making really good time. Ask yourself, and really think about it: Is my organization producing the growth in customers, members, revenues, donations, profits, etc. that it is designed to produce? Like it or not your answer has to be “yes,” because the design determines the results.
Times are tough. People are hurting. Your mission to help people is critically important. But please don't confuse "mission" with "strategy."
In my last post I identified three things that can turn leaders into laggards: the practical difficulties of sustaining above-average performance, the natural obsolescence of once-vital strategies, and the corrosive impact of discontinuous change. Now let me add a fourth: success corrupts.
Designers often wonder or whine about how their work is not recognized, accepted or even respected in their organization. What many designers don’t realize is how they or their designs are treated has to do with how the discipline of design is viewed within their organization. While most of the time I reference organizations that have in-house design teams, most of the topics of our discussion today can also apply to consultancies looking to service organizations that buy design services. There are many levels of how Design is viewed or integrated within an organization. This is what I like to call “The Design Functionality Axis” as illustrated above. The Axis stretches from a low level Supplier relationship at the base of the triangle to a Strategic Design Leadership relationship
David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time.
The legendary advertising innovator David Ogilvy created an enduring organization using culture, integrity, and charm.
It's better to be first than it is to be better. Many people believe that the basic issue in marketing is convincing prospects that you have a better product or service. Not true. If you have a small market share and you have to do battle with larger, better-financed competitors, then your marketing strategy was probably faulty in the first place. You violated the first law of marketing. The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It's the law of leadership: It's better to be first than it is to be better. It's much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.
The Guardian recently sat down with Rob Bondurant VP of Marketing at Patagonia and asked him to discuss their sustainable model and how they will continue to innovate for the future. Beyond simply furthering the reach of their own brand, we found Patagonia’s desire to provide leadership in the areas of ethical business practices to be particularly noteworthy.
The combination of a new administration headed to the White House, along with our country's established leadership in innovation, has us standing at the crest of a trail that could ensure we never enter this chasm again. Let's get back on our feet and remember what we are made of.