Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Command & Control is so 20th century

“Most American children are still socialized to obey authority. As a teacher, parent, executive, or ranking officer in the military, you are assumed to be “in charge” and to have all answers. Your job is to “command” the people under you to do what you think best, and their job is to listen and obey. Your authority comes with your position or title or rank and is generally not questioned – at least not to your face. The smooth functioning of society depends on some compliance to authority.
The problem is that the highly disruptive nature of innovation creates new challenges to traditional authority, and successful leadership of an innovative enterprise requires a different kind of authority.” Tony Wagner – Creating Innovators

It is so clear that the 21st century demands and challenges require a new approach to leading, innovation as well as personal development. A top-down management style prohibits that the employees come up with new ideas. They feel that they are not listened to anyway, so they keep their mouth shut. This makes them feel powerless and limits the full usage of their potential. This has of course negative consequence for bot the employee and the organization.

It is therefor crucial that organizations adopt a more coaching style of leadership at all levels. There should also be given a huge priority to bottom-up involvement of all employees (and partners, suppliers and customers).
Innovation should not be a one-off activity, but is should be the standard part of the culture.
It is also a must to fully use the strengths and talents of the individuals in your organization. Everybody would like to be seen and especially to be heard. Your physical and emotional health depends on it.

It will not be easy to make this transition, on all levels. Commitment, determination and courage are absolutely needed. But there is just no alternative anymore. If you want to survive, you have to make this switch! And there are plenty of good people who want to help you with this journey.

Are you making steps to get rid of command & control?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Location is also relevant with social media

A few weeks ago I did play golf in Germany and tasted a delicious alcohol-free beer from Erdinger. So, I decided to Google for it and check where I could buy this product in The Netherlands. I thought that this was a 5-minute job. I could not have been more wrong.

I could not find any brick and mortar store, which would be selling this product. Isn’t this strange as this is the best selling alcohol-free brand in Germany? Therefor I did contact them via their website with this simple question: where can I buy this product? First they did send me to a distributor which happened to have as their only customer …… Heineken! This approach didn’t work and I did contact them again. The helpful area sales manager arranged a call with a local sales manager and he actually pointed to a store (rather close to where I live) where I could buy the product.

This process did cost me quite some time, which shouldn’t be the case. So I did send the area sales manager some feedback and suggestions. Especially that a proper use of social media would be quite useful for them as well as for their prospects. And again I was introduced to another local sales manger, who did write this reply:

We would like to inform you that we are already working on several marketing activities in order to promote especially ERDINGER Alkoholfrei.
This product is positioned as a Sports and Fitness Drink and therefore we do support several sport events, mainly running events. In 2012 we started a sponsoring campaign with the Dutch Trail Cup in the Netherlands which takes place in Gulpen, Rheden and Schoorl (14th of October).
So far we have used the dutch Runner's World for 3 advertisments, incl. editorials on their webpage.
In what kind of social media are you working with?”

Obviously they lack a clear understanding of what social media is and can do for them. This marketing approach will cause the same problems i.e. if people want to buy the product after the events/advertisements they can find no source where they can actually buy the product. And there is also nobody (via social media!) who they can contact. I also doubt whether they will use the same laborious process as I did.

What are the learnings from this experience?
Well, it looks like a typical example of a product-focused company who has problems with putting the customer at the center of their operations. Also a clear understanding of the benefits of social media is lacking. The marketing department should also see their approach as part of a larger ecosystem, instead of focusing on an isolated activity only. There are still huge opportunities by putting the customer at the start and at the end of all your activities.

Are you giving priority to the customer (service) experience?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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