My previous post warning of the dangers of Banana Marketing reminded me of the insightful book by Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma. Key insight: sustaining innovation vs disruptive innovation. Great companies have a tendency to excel at the first and get blindsided by the second. (His chapter on the disc drive industry is here.) So look around. Is your new product pipeline filled with genetic clones. Are you selling a bunch of bananas?
Your business is run by teams. Now, more than ever, you have to be sensitive to team killers – the one or two individuals that drag a high quality group of people into the mud. We’ve all dealt with them. The individual who just seems to be in the way, not pulling his weight or simply a jerk. Some interesting research by Dr. William Felps, Rotterdam School of Management, indicates that team effectiveness can be reduced by 30% to 40% through the simple addition of a single ‘bad apple.’ He describes his research in a recent episode of This American Life and had it published in the 2006 journal, Research in Organizational Behavior, Volume 27, 181–230. Bad apples were described as jerks, slackers and depressive pessimists. I really enjoy the inventiveness of the experiment.
Strategy drives an organization. This has become business gospel. It has also led to pigeonholing management of ‘brand promise’ as a communication issue, rather than a key strategic lever that can drive process refinement throughout a company. Imagine getting a promise from someone you don’t know. How valuable is the promise, what does it mean? You evaluate it based on factors such as the giver’s integrity, politics, past experience, corporate culture, and even the conditions under which it was made. A promise made anonymously, lightly or from someone unreliable doesn’t carry weight. Similarly, your brand is the summation of promises made to a consumer through previous use, contact, communication, word-of-mouth and possibly a bit of fantasy on their part. So ‘Brand Promise’ will not affect consumer opinion of your brand if your corporate culture, product attributes and service delivery don’t align with the promise. In other words: Brand-is-Promise and Promise-is-Brand.
Can you answer yes to any of the following questions? 1. Does your company tends to write a plan every year but mostly it is put in a binder to gather dust? Maybe you don’t even do planning because “what’s the point?” 2. Do you spend too much of your time fighting fires, eliminating emergencies and chasing “what if’s”? 3. Can you quickly explain your current business strategy and how it fits with your company’s vision? Your 3-yr strategy? Your marketplace position? 4. Can you show your current program performance measures and make the appropriate mid-stream corrections? 5. Do you have to go through more than one layer of management to get a decision made about any program – even one that has already been given a green light? 6. How many times each year do you have to justify your budget? More than during the annual budgeting process? Do … Continue reading
If you haven’t been part of a major failure in your career then you’re not trying hard enough. As a Scoutmaster I’ve seen adults and children learn faster and more efficiently from their mistakes than from their successes. “Well I won’t do it that way again,” holds a lot more weight than “Aren’t I clever.” Leading a risky, innovative project automatically ensures that things will go wrong. So the relevant question is how to lead through difficulties to ensure innovation continues. Whining does not work — “We didn’t have enough resources. It was out of my control….” Pointing does not work — “The division didn’t step up. The research was wrong….” Excuses don’t work. If the point of failure comes as a complete surprise to your management then you have already missed a key element of leading a risky project — Managing Expectations.