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Creating Strategic Alignment

Connect the dots between brand, media, teams, and tools.

Connecting with customers today means connecting the dots. Future leaders will build integrated systems that activate messages and deliver value with better continuity and results.

Connecting with customers today means connecting the dots. In this video, we discuss c ustomer touchpoints, from physical products and environments, digital experiences, service offerings and training, should all add up to a cohesive whole. Future leaders will build integrated systems that activate messages and deliver value with better continuity and results. In this webinar, we will explore methods for getting your arms around this important issue and how to create standards, frameworks, and systems for moving forward.


Full transcript:

Thank you very much for joining me today for our webinar on Creating Strategic Alignment. My name is Kevin Budelmann, I'm the president of a company called Peopledesign. This is our second webinar that we have put together for this year. I'm hopeful that you may have listened in on our first one on Finding Strategic Focus. This is a bit of a follow up on that one, if not that's fine you can listen to it later or you certainly don't need to understand that to get into this one.

I would like to start by this slide, this is a definition of strategy from fellow named Jim Rivkin who is the strategy unit head of Harvard Business School.

A lot of people talk about strategy and unfortunately it means different things, different people. I think this is a pretty good definition of which strategy is and this is breakdown. A strategy is an integrated set of choices which positions a firm in an industry so as to generate superior financial returns over the long run. Of course financial returns are more focused on for profit organizations, non-profits may have a slightly different objective and mission.

I think the way we look at this is it breaks down the two big question. One is related to the idea of focus and the other is related to the idea of alignment. As I mentioned our last webinar we focused on the idea of finding focus which is really about making decisions. A lot of strategic thinking and strategic strategy about making decisions. Today's discussion is on creating alignment and really I see these as two primary activities in terms of the building blocks of how we work at Peopledesign and how we help our customers, how do both these key things.

First of all I'll just make a little bit of an aside. Our focus at Peopledesign is on people as the name implies and you'll see how this starts to wrap these ideas together. In our mind really the idea of a focus on people, focus on context, the needs, what do they have, their behaviors, how people make decisions. Really how they interpret meaning is really a way to create alignment. At the bottom of this slide is a quote from Peter Drucker the famous business guru.

Peter Drucker, one of his famous post was, "The purpose of business is to create a customer," and I always found that to be interesting because it's not to serve a customer, and it's not to ask them what they need and try to give it to them but to actually create a customer. What is that actually mean? A lot it has to do it these ideas around how the customer perceives themselves, how they make choices, how they think about risk and these are important ideas as you dive into the idea of focus and alignment.

What I'd like to do is talk a little bit about communication. A lot of alignment is about communication and here are some communication basics. A lot of people talk about communication and if you're ... If you're an employer or have a staff you often receive resumes as I do where people claim to be good communicators. It's important to recognize a communication is not about accuracy necessarily, it's about meaning and understanding. Communication is actually co-created between the sender and their recipient.

Meaning actually happens in between you and who you're trying to communicate with. I think that anybody would probably recognize this if you've had discussions with your friends and family and sometimes are communicating very effectively. You are being able to get your message across. Often it's a matter of how the person is receiving it and in order to communicate effectively you have to understand who's on the other side.

On a company level many organizations think about their claim and what they say. Marketing messages are based on your basics of positioning. It usually about sticking a claim in a market place and very often organizations will have a very ... They try to state very clearly and as very detailed description of an offering and you will state your claim on. For example, we are a company, and we are a wolf, we are some specific claim in the marketplace, and that's all well and good.

However, one of the things that happens when people try to amp it up a little bit is they go through what they would might think of as a branding exercise. We do a lot of work in the brand space as you may know and of course branding is very often, too often in my mind seen as a cosmetic exercise. They'll dress up the wolf with a top hat, might see their message as louder but it doesn't necessarily address maybe the key issue. One of the key issues has to do with the support for your claims.

A good positioning template if you gone through that exercise in your organization has a lot to do with first of all stating the claim but then ... And making a claim. Then what are you going to support that claim. Actions speak louder than words and what you do is really significant. It's a big as you can claim anything you want but if you don't back it up with actions that are meaningful and support of that claim then, it brings false for the recipient.

The consumer or the customer on the other end may not receive you as a wolf at all, right. They may perceive you in some other way and you do may want to seen as comical or maybe find to be seen as comical as this little cartoon dog over here on the right. Perhaps it's not what you had intended. I think it's important to recognize. We also talk about how brand is customer perception. This perception is the result of the summary of your actions.

These things that you do everyday, their websites and buildings and people and products, literature. These are all things that add up to that perception. It becomes critical start thinking about what is your perception goal, what is it you want them to think and what are you doing to encourage that result. Another way to say this is that the famous quote, "You cannot not communicate," and I think if nothing else this is a way to help reinforce or help highlight the importance of alignment.

All of these individual actions are communications. Every interaction with the customer is a communication. Often call to action and an action anticipated in that but some of those things add up to the perception. I think it's important to recognize that each of these interactions, indication and the alignment of those individual actions is what can lead to whether or not your customer thinks about your brand the way you wanted to.

Shifting gears for a minute: The Big Idea. What I mean by The Big Idea in some respects is what relates to our previous webinar in Focus and Strategic Intent. It's also a basically what's behind the business, what has worked in the past, what's working currently. You think about most business leaders think about the big idea that's driving business forward and this is the head space that most executives stay in to deal with the time and that's great.

However, I would suggest that a big idea without alignment is a big bet. If you don't align your activities, these investments that you make every day you're betting a lot of money. These tactics cost money and in fact it’s interesting because a lot of our client work organizations are sometimes concerned about how much money something will cost of course as logical. I think it's important to recognize that organizations spend money everyday on buildings and people with products, packaging, digital efforts, what have you.

All of these things cost money and it's really a question of in what way are you investing. It's a matter of whether you're employing to invest in some of these efforts, it's just the matter of how. Is the message you're sending is the communication that is taking place between you and the recipient action resulting in the desired, having the desired effect. It's an important question and, in fact, very often what we have found is that things get a little lost in translation.

What we believe is that there's often a missing step. If you imagine at the top of page here, this light bulb the big idea and your strategic intent, what is it you're trying to achieve? At the bottom you have practice areas, these different investments that you make in tactics everyday. In the middle I think is a really critical and often overlooked step that has to do with creating systems for alignment. It's really about understanding patterns and more significantly creating principals that can guide the practice areas, that can guide your investments that are reflective of your strategic intent but are not exactly the same thing as a tactic and a given to a little bit of what I mean.

Search that lead to today, a model for a hierarchy, for action. If you imagine at the top of a pyramid your philosophy or your big idea, your strategic intent, we often think about in terms of who is your audience, what do you try to claim, what supported when you have for that claim and what's the meaning of a brand. At the bottom you have practice areas, your target, media and timing, all these individual things. In the middle is idea developing principles, principles for alignment, patterns and systems and a lot of it else who gets into beyond that, language and standards and metrics.

It's really that having the step is really a critical way of avoiding two ends of a negative spectrum. One would be micromanagement, some executives suffer from trying to make sure that their philosophy is carried out in practice by getting down into the details, right. Micromanagement would be making sure that philosophy carried all the way down. In the flip side is just confusion where there's not enough oversight, not enough sense of what the philosophy means that your abstract, nobody knows how to translate it.

It's just confusion of the practice areas and I think that what often happens without at some level of structure is that either those streamings are negative, right, micromanagement never scales well and has lots of difficulties there. Also, just confusion and more often I would say is more of diffusion side where executives may make statements in a philosophical level about their strategic intent. Then if it's not translated well, if it's not well understood by the people on the ground if you will or helping execute on tactics. There is some information loos along the way and this confusion in fact what happens in people in practice areas is that they tend to go back to the things that they all ready understand. They tend to go back to status quo.

The top two layers we like to call a brand platform. We think that it's a critical step to try to understand first of all packaging up this idea of strategic focus and strategic alignment. As you can create systems for alignment, that middle layer is an exact lay alignment but it's really creating systems for alignment. The top two layers that this cape leads to critical step of ... You can describe this as a platform but the important part is that it leads to better language and better metrics sometimes for optimization on the practice area level.

It's a way to create systems for greater efficiency and greater effectiveness and the variety of activities that an organizations do execute on everyday. At the bottom of this pyramid you can think about practice areas. It's been a few minutes on this slide and I risk, I recognize if you start to read through this possibly offending some people and I hope I haven't and I'm getting to line a moment. Basically if you think about what's going on in under your roof, right, there are teams and department skill sets, also history and momentum, sometimes bias.

All of these different practices are actually executed by practitioners, different departments, different people with different agendas. Very often those individual departments come into their discipline or practice area, have gone to school, or they have to fresh on training and all their experience which leads them to a certain kind of structure. Again, these are broad generalizations, so I'll apologize in advance for that but it's true and disparate groups have different ways of thinking about the world.

Executives, a lot of executives, especially public companies concerned about you just keeping the ship on a steady port, steady she goes and no sudden moves. Closing is definitely a key metric for sales, whereas operations is very much about optimization, and moving toward a model that is increasingly perfect. Marketing is make a big splash and then try to organize the riffle effects. IT might be thinking about in terms of security, right, in terms of raising the drawbridge and test the weakness. HR is trying to heard cats among out of it and this is just a general idea. I'm sure if you look through your own lens in your organization you may have a slightly different take on this but you'll get a sense of what I mean. You can tell certainly the idea of cross functional team is becoming more and more popular and that's a good thing although it's hard if you ever been on one of them. It depends on how good the individuals are in communicating and working outside of their comfort zone.

The important point here and this circles back to my point earlier about being people focused is that the customers is the common denominator. I believe that it should be the objective of many organizations who are trying to align more of their activities to breakout of those team paradigms. New roles and new language and new metrics that maybe emerging from all of this. In fact, I'm not surprised if some of those ideas aren't becoming more common in your own organizations.

Certainly I think there can be a recognition sometimes about how the internal language and even the practice area language can create silos and create problems that are ultimately manifested in terms of the customer experience. Which as I mentioned earlier is really critical, it's really a problem. Broken customer experience is really relate to whether or not the customer thinks what you want them to think about your product or service.

What becomes an objective is to develop a common language. Today, if you're thinking about the customers perception of a brand it's really a holistic endeavor. You can't in a way one kind of experience over another necessarily. There are ways to analyze these things which I'll get into a minute but the important thing is that again action speaks louder than words. All of these things add up to the customers perception. Being cognizant of what is your brand perception is key. What do you want them to think is a critical decision, it's from the focus but then how are you going to execute on all of these different tactics that adds up to your desired effect.

Too often the word customer experience is thrown out a lot. We've had a lot of our clients have used it in the context of a client trip or the media to use in case of a showroom. In our minds a customer experience is the entire thing. Every customer tells which gets complicated in a hurry admittedly but is how responsible. Here are few ways to think about it.

One way to think about it is that is to think you might have as a customer journey. If you imagine organizing all of your individual customer touchpoints, organized into a circle. Organize these touch points into groups of clusters or a faces. You think about all the things that you do to generate awareness for the brand. All of the things that you do to encourage them to commit to the brand and thinking about the engagement part.

Of course, loyalty the best case scenario, if you do all of these things right and the perception is what you wanted. It's deliberately not using practice area or discipline jargon. In some ways, we try to take the words marketing or sales or product of it. Mostly because we're trying to find a different kind of a language that's trying to look at it from the customers perspective.

It doesn't matter if we're talking about social media for example or advertising. It doesn't matter if we're talking about shipping and delivery versus customer service which may again internally be totally different departments with people who have different agendas and different metrics. Ideally they're all adding up to the same customer experience and it's important to recognize how all these things actually align together.

Thinking about this a little bit further. There are a lot of ways to cut this customer journey and I'm sure you probably are familiar with some of them. This is one of the ways that we think about it in terms of ... Maybe think about it if you organize your customer touch points into the idea of awareness with engagement loyalty. You can imagine on the right hand side you got potential customers and on the left hand side you have existing customers.

What happens at the top and the bottom to in terms of where you try to inspire and where you're trying to assure the inspiration coming from the motions and I'm sure it's coming from facts. Again, this is a broad justification is any kind of model is but it's useful way to start thinking about clustering your activities around things inspiring potential customers to engage using emotion versus assuring potential customers who engage using facts and then around the wheel.

The idea here is to start thinking about other kinds of criteria for understanding what could be done or what should be done that falls out of the boundaries typically of how an individual departments thing about the ... Their one small piece of the puzzle. Of course like many organizations most of our clients have made the audiences they're trying to appeal to from our stand point the important thing to think about here is that prioritizing those audiences is critical. You can't be all things to all people.

Recognizing that of course there are sometimes different demographics and different segments of markets or other kinds of influence within the market not to mention your internal staff. There always should be a lot of audiences that perhaps are identified, and they may have slightly different versions of a perception goal. It's important to keep in mind that the overall brand perception goal should be the same. I don't think that specially in this day and age of transparency and of social media becomes very, very difficult to claim lots of divergent and things for different audiences.

You can add from flavors, and you can add a different kind of theme perhaps, but it all relates to the whole overall theme that the brand is trying to represent in the marketplace. One of the tools we used to think about a different lens again for thinking about tactical plating and alignment of these tactics that falls outside of a departmental lens. You would think about again awareness, commitment, engagement and loyalty but also that the reality is often different audience groups may have a different need or you may have a different strategic emphasis on certain parts of the phase.

If you imagine putting the audience members across the top and then the faces on the left, you can list different tactics. You can organize these tactics by putting what you are are currently doing versus what you like do next. You can list those tactics and what awareness tactics are off current customers, versus new customers and long term customers influences. You might think about emphasizing them in different ways and just a way to start thinking about how do you out your resources.

Consider: What's the key message? Current customers for example might be completely about certain parts to process from engagement for example or new customers who're trying to drive awareness more whereas current customers don't need to have as much awareness driven. Long term customers may not need a lot of these things but they mostly need to be focused on loyalty programs.

Then maybe other groups influences aren't customers at all but they don't actually engage in any of those other parts but they really are helpful in driving. It's just useful way to start thinking about individual tactics and how might plan different emphasis for those tactics differently.

The other thing that's going on of course it's that there are huge new opportunities with technology. An increasing number of these interactions are or can be online and certainly the addition of mobile and kiosk interfaces and all of those things have just increased the number of digital opportunities. It creates an interesting challenge because unless you are a completely online company it's never all by itself.

I think this kind of diagram is helpful to recognize that even when there's a website, often there are also people. There also maybe a sales person there, there are some facility or there some other document or printed data. The actual interaction with the product is while they're dealing with the mobile app. Those kinds of things are useful to first of all recognize, but the other thing to recognize is that how these touchpoints connect. The increasing number of things that can be accomplished using these kinds of media is makes it very complicated sometimes through work through ... For example developing a public website.

If you've ever been in one of those meetings we're trying to hash out what is the front page of the website looked like, if you know what I mean. The reason why that's complicated and even more complicated is that the truth is the website is more than one experience. This diagram illustrates the idea of how a website for example is often trying to support multiple interactions and different parts of the process.

A web initiative may seem like one project, but it's often about six projects different things, and serving the customer experience in different ways. As I mentioned earlier often it's also related to completely non-digital kinds of experiences that are existing simultaneously. Thinking through that clearly is important. Combining this thinking with the previous one which audience you're trying to reach and how to reach them can yield the bones of a digital strategy.

It is one phase of the process one point and the other. It's the useful way to start thinking about how you start emphasizing, prioritizing these activities. The other thing that this allows us to do is we certainly use this mechanism for just planning digital experiences in general. For that matter even physical experiences or other kinds of experiences.

The idea of trying to first look at through the lens of the customer experience but then was trying to identify which points of that customer experience are best suited for particular media. Another thing to consider as I mentioned earlier, each one of these individual touch points is a communication. Each one is an opportunity. If we think about

The goal is forward motion, and each touchpoint is an interaction. Each individual item is its own mini communication. It's either you're trying to immense a certain response from a customer or you're trying to get them to take action. Usually the action is to move forward to the next point where there's another call to action and another action which to move forward. It looks a little bit complex but the good news here is that while we find it to be actually a relief for a lot of organizations is that not each touch point has to everything.

I think that it's certainly been in process of building communication tools and there's also in the kind of late belief that let's say the brochure is going to introduce somebody to a product or service and convince and close the sale in one sales week, of course that just simply doesn't happen. The same with the website or showrooms or other aspects of other initiatives. One part of a website in this case is serving one goal and that's really to move them forward to the next step.

It can actually help simplify and prioritize and make sure that that touch point is aligned with others. Another lens that's useful, again not based on departments as much or at least not directly is thinking about just the overall brand perception. For getting time for a minute but just thinking about in terms of domain like which our digital experiences I just mentioned which is a whole category in another self. Which is not just the web but obviously mobile and environment as embedded technology.

How is it different from physical experiences? Facilities and showrooms, products, packaging, and how does that different from personal experiences and again this not reach the exclusive but this teams and talent, training, incentives. All of these things add up to again how the end recipient is thinking about the brand and how the ... Whether or not it's aligned with your strategic focus.

Something else to consider is the language of your offer itself. There is a convention that's widespread in business in most markets. You had your product and services language that we all adopt is the framework. I believe that customers while they make that distinction they mostly think about the meaning of that product or service. They're not really ... They don't think actively about these things and I think that they're interest in models that are starting to change this dynamic.

The product and service paradigm has a lot historically to do with basic revenue models. Meaning this is how you make money, you make money by selling this product and I give it to you and you give me your money and you go away. Service that I perform some action on your behalf and you pay me for that service and that you go away. I think what's interesting to know here is that many products come with three or nearly three services from the stand point of the customer. All services actually come with free products if you will.

This is always been truth I think where the product you like. There's other things that a product company will do, those delivery and shipping and installation the customer service any number of these. Return into a for fee service and there's a product service combination but it's usually still through the lens of a product and it's always a service. Some services if you think about cable TV or other kinds of services where you have connectors or terminals or tools or amenities.

Things that you receive that are more physical and you might think about unless a product but you get them for free. Revenue models based on the good service. Again, to a customer its all part of the same basic meaning, "What is that mean to me?" or, "What am I receiving in general?" I think that this is partly why one of the main innovation paths if you're product company is to start behaving as a service.

Innovation paths for a service company to start to do, start behaving like a product. It's because they are benefits to each, right, there is this on going revenue on the service side and products have other kinds of less ambiguity and more regular some package consist. Certainly if you're a software services, a classic example now, software products starting to behave like services, and charge like services. Service we're also essentials to bundled and package pricing things like start behaving like products.

It's something to consider if you're a product company start thinking about that would be one way innovative if you're a service company in that way. In the mind of the customer, these things are all bundled together. Consider what this means for your offering. Your internal alignment and how that starts to turn to external. How you interact with customer thinking about it as really the customer you're drawing more lines internally than the customer does often.

That is important to recognize that the customer may be seeing all these things one bundled meaning. The other thing to consider you're maybe familiar with this offer innovation model around people, technology, and business. What do people need, what's possible, and what's good for a business? IDEO and others use this kind of model, usually in a Venn diagram. I prefer this approach which is all burnout of Venn diagrams these days.

Here is a more helpful way to think about this broader needs of people and building to increase the concentric circles. Think you might have through these lens again another way to thinking about different kinds of language and different kinds of metrics from this thing. What is the offer? How do you start doing in a way that is more meaningful to the customer?

Next is thinking about strategic roadmaps. It's another lens that we use as a way to think about developing alignment that is not based on my individual department of discipline. Time is on the horizontal axis, and the vertical axis is your risk tolerance, resource investment, or expected level of innovation. The status quo is moving along like an index fund in the market, or it's often driven by competitors – keeping up with the Jones.'

Markets flock together. Competitors look at each other and stick together. Of course, if you're looking for a more bold approach. If you can, imagine that time and money aren't a limitation. Imagine a much bigger step. What if you're much more innovative and at some point not yet identified in the future. What is that vision, what if?

The idea of backcasting is working backward, reverse engineering from that vision. Imagining a vision that doesn't exist and then building steps back toward the present. Trying to imagine, "Okay. If we're going to be here in 10 years then we're likely to be three or five years." Determine the important steps that have to take place to get from here to there.

Developing a strategic roadmap is identifying what are these key moments where we would make the investment, we would take the risk, we would move in a direction that is going to move us incrementally in the direction that we desire. This approach is the anatomy of strategic planning or when we think about strategic planning. We use two critical activities about finding focus which is related to the exercise of getting to that vision and align which is developing that roadmap activities.

It can be a helpful lens for developing horizon planning. The idea of starting to identify what are the short, medium or long-term projects. A challenge ... A lot of times with alignment efforts are trying to not be ruled by the tyranny of the urgent and instead developing a list of projects based on how they fit on with the strategic need. The idea of these different horizons and this is just a path, food for thought here. Because different organizations think about horizon as quarters and others think about them as years.

The idea of moving what you need to do today in order to stay competitive versus play the game better versus change the game and what kind of time horizon. Again, deliberately looking for opportunities to break out of a department, language or those types of internal silos that can prevent this kind of alignment to create the kind of common customer perception that you desired. To conclude here, you just maybe useful ways to think about this. One of the things we certainly found is that the interesting, think back to that pyramid diagram with the philosophy principle and practice, what's interesting is that you have systems in the middle or principles are somewhat sometimes not as seen as sexy as strategy or as artifacts.

That's probably why there's a gap, I think people think about strategy or how the big names, big firms to help with strategy and they'll hire maybe firms to work on really sexy artifacts. I think what happens is that there's this ... Something that's lost in translation in the middle. You may have this contract, and you may have cool strategy but they don't necessarily align. As a result to that it becomes hard to invest in systems, because they don't seem tangible.

It's an artifact, but I think organizations should invest in these things and part of it because it helps to avoid these two pitfalls of micromanagement versus intrusion. To summarize a few of the points I've mentioned earlier, the idea that you cannot not communicate, your action speak louder than words and every action that you take is a kind of communication you need to think about how it's being received and what's the desired outcome. It's important to create principles or language or metrics as I mentioned based on your customers, your customer is a common denominator.

The goal is to create holistic experiences, so think about it through the lens of the customer journey or touchpoints. Think about how technology plays a role and think about how you describe your offering. Ultimately, this should align the strategic program. How are you going to take those steps to lead toward the vision? Alignment has to do with getting making this all work. Having a tight focus makes it easier.

It is even harder when you start trying to think about your internal activities of alignment, and it's way in getting different parts of the organization or sometimes district that are divergent in their philosophies and their language and in their metrics to work toward a more common goal. I think it's important to use the customer as a common denominator, and there are ways to sometimes, it's prompt action. The one is certainly just giving diversion to work together but also is the matter innovating work quickly.

Sometimes organizations can put a model through these things but sometimes that is quickly as either the leaders or the market end. The bottom line is it has a lot to do with leaders trying to develop alignment systems so that teams have a better chance of succeeding.

Q&A

Here is a question about practical tips to get how to get internal staff to understand brand strategy, what it means to them and what role they should play. Do you recommend that your clients tie brands, HR things like performance and measure the competition?

Yes is the answer to this second question, and that's probably why this is hard. I think that a lot of strategy get directly into culture aspects of an organization which is the scary thing if you're in the marketing department or the product group. I think that a the end of the day that's a lot of what these things are about. The strongest organizations are those that have figured out how to align teams around the strategy. At least from my perspective it's not something we claim to do all things for all people. I think pointing these things out is useful path forward because of the net effect of all the choices that each department or group makes.

Here's a good question about what kinds of metrics are there for measuring strategic alignment. There's no easy answer for that that's for sure. Using some of the lenses that I mentioned earlier, the idea of thinking about your customer journey and if you can be clearer about the cross-departmental aspects of driving awareness. Trying to develop loyalty, for example, is becomes an easier way to start to identify, "How do we measure the loyalty? How do measure awareness?"

Trying to think about that in terms of other lenses, from a customer's perspective. Think about it as a holistic experience. Break it down in a different way is a way to change the conversation.

How do we make sure that all team members on the same page will be inclined eccentric. That's a good question. I think that it's been interesting in my career how often I've been in meetings with different parts of an organization that because they're deeply embedded and with certain parts of the organization they don't touch customers very often. It's amazing how far they can get away from it to even to the extent to which they may or may not even have the full understanding of leaving the offer or what the customer does.

If you're a part of the organization that is a skill set that is not relate to that market, you might be in the background just coming branding things away. I do believe that it becomes increasingly important that departments regardless of your role to have a good understanding of just at a high level at least in terms of who's the customer. What are you trying to achieve? How do they view your offer? How was their ... What their role that they're playing in that and serving the offer that customer in that way?

I think that being customer eccentric is just logical some point if you believe that Peter Drucker mentioned about the purpose of business is to create customers. I think that even though individual practitioners bring their own skill set and their own ideas to bear on any particular situation keeping them focused on the end goal which is the customer is paramount today.

Here's a question about, what are the hiring implications for leaders? What are the most important skills, leadership ability, emotional intelligence, other? Good questions.

If you have subscribers to the idea of the T-shaped personality which has been discussed and reputed and it has different interpretations. I think that's an important way to think about skills today – think about your skill set profile as being having a horizontal and the vertical.

The vertical has to do with depth – depth of knowledge of a particular field of skill, probably went to college for, or somebody has technical ability perhaps based on experience. The horizontal has more to do with your ability to communicating work without those who are not in your discipline. I think that those are important dimensions to think about for just about any team that moves away. I think that the world has gotten complicated enough that it's very, very difficult to being only in silo and not be able to describe what you do in terms of another department can understand.

However, you need to have some skill. It becomes a living tester for our own firm. Sometimes I think about other people can make great conversation with anybody but when everyone else leaves the room they don't have any actual skill. Colleague of mine mentioned once availability is not a job skill, right, which is a risk in a lot of organizations, larger organizations particularly. The same time you can't just be somebody who is so much of an expert that nobody else can understand you.

You can't be somebody who is so deep into one area that you can't translate that value of what you do for someone else. Not everyone has to be exactly the same shape – some people are more broad and shallow, others are more deep and narrow. I think that trying to look at those as two dimensions for hiring and the ability to connect others, these are the important factor.

In the Finding Focus webinar, I talked a lot about how there's category blur in different markets. I think there's a similar blur going on with departments and organizations. Having those skills is a way to collaborate and jump between teams.

A question here about if you have any examples of how you gotten to the point of changing the game. That's a good question. I think that the objective of this horizon planning is that is to establish a general direction which where is the north star. I think the reality is you're working on projects that are dealing with today, a little bit farther in the future and a little bit farther in the future – not a specific initiative that is game changing.

I think that a lot of it is trying to invest in something that is a bigger idea. What do I do today versus what to invest tomorrow? How do you not be so ruled by today's concern if you don't invest in some level of things that are farther out. Today it always in Horizon One, but as the projects move as it become real, your understanding the vision often changes. I think that the more you can mindful of this kind of thought process the more you're creating a situation where you can change the game.

It's not easy, but there are very view game changing organizations out there to be honest. I think that the extent to which we can understand that you got to have the initial will and desire to be move in that direction is certainly better in about to occur. Here's a question, what artifacts of processes do you end up creating for the middle layer in order to carry that big idea down, down the layer cake?

A lot of it comes in the form and our experience in standards, principals we come from the brand side of the universe. In my mind the way to get into a broader conversation about these kinds of things because I think brand affect so much. Brand standards are certainly one way to think about it, but brand standards are too often seen a merely cosmetic.

The other kinds of standards might be how does a customer service person interact with a client in a retail environment, or how do they answer the phone, or how does the lobby feel? The challenge is developing new approaches, a new language, and new metrics. This pyramid model illustrates levels of abstraction, the abstraction letter from that concept.

You think about tangible things of the bottom is the most concrete, and this moves to the top more abstract. I think that not everybody has a great, this is another skill psych question, but not everyone has a great ability to throttle, deliberately throttle their ability to abstract the problem. The middle layer is somewhere between an abstract strategic objective and then concrete – an artifact somewhere in between.

That's why I think principles are going about that. In fact, the next webinar that we're working on right now is actually has to go deeper into some of those principles. Our book on brand design also gets into these ideas.

Any insights for business model of products and services provided through your independent dealers.

I did a talk at a local marketing organization about B2B business models. There's a presentation downloadable from our website with some of that information but it may not be self-explanatory. It's a bigger topic of conversation about when you have more complex business models and a lot of layers.

Ultimately, the needs of the end user outweighs everyone else in the value chain, long term. If you help the overall brand with the perception of the end customer, you have everyone else along the way.

Any more questions? Nice feedback. Thank you very much.

It's getting to the top of the hour. I will be posting a recording of this webinar, and I'll let you know when that happen. It's going to be around the idea of brand standards and some of these ideas building on these ideas of building principles.

Thank you very much for attending again. I appreciate your attendance and I know it seems take a big chunk out of your days so I appreciate it.

Thank you very much, and I hope to see you at the next one.

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