Friday, March 31, 2017

The Centipede Strategy for Content Marketing
    Published on February 6, 2017 Mohanbir Sawhney

Read the article for an explanation of the centipede metaphor.

Why Content Matters

Marketers have traditionally focused on pitching the features and benefits of their offerings in their marketing communications. But modern marketers understand that this approach is swiftly losing its effectiveness in digital media channels, where customers have the choice to tune out promotional messages. The new approach, called Content Marketing (or Inbound Marketing), focuses on creating, curating and delivering content that customers find useful, timely and relevant. A key tenet of Content Marketing is to think about Return on Engagement (ROE) - What value do customers get from consuming your content?
You can provide Return on Engagement to customers in many ways - by giving them useful information, by solving a problem for them, by making their life more convenient, by entertaining them, by inspiring them and by connecting them with communities that they care about. In content marketing, you need to start with a pain point or a passion point that is important for your customers. Then you need to design your content around this pain point or a passion point….

The Content Paradox
Content marketing is a powerful approach to engage with customers, but there is a problem. In the days of mass media, content used to take the form of a few carefully crafted advertising messages created for television, print or outdoor media….
…Media consumption has fragmented across a variety of social platforms and media is often consumed in very small chunks in "micro-moments" that happen hundreds of times a day as consumers compulsively interact with their smartphones. The implication - content in micro-moment world needs to also become "micro-content" - hundreds of small content assets that are relevant in the moment. Marketers need to create enormous amounts of content on a continuous basis and they need to accept the fact that individual pieces of content may have a very short shelf life….

…Content may be ephemeral, but brands need to endure. This is the content paradox - how to reconcile the short life of content with the long life of a brand. Content marketing demands agility and continuous experimentation.

Monday, March 27, 2017

10 Principles of Strategy through Execution
How to link where your company is headed with what it does best. See also “A Guide to Strategy through Execution.”
by Ivan de Souza, Richard Kauffeld, and David van Oss

Superb article that should be read in full to gain important insights and examples

Having a close link between strategy and execution is critically important. Your strategy is your promise to deliver value: the things you do for customers, now and in the future, that no other company can do as well. Your execution occurs in the thousands of decisions made each day by people at every level of your company.
Quality, innovation, profitability, and growth all depend on having strategy and execution fit together seamlessly. If they don’t fit — if you can’t deliberately align them in a coherent way — you risk operating at cross-purposes and losing your focus.

1. Aim High
Don’t compromise your strategy or your execution. Set a lofty ambition for your strategy: not just financial success but sustained value creation, making a better world through your products, services, and presence
2. Build on Your Strengths
Your company has capabilities that set it apart, things you do better than anyone else. You can use them as a starting point to create greater success.
3. Be Ambidextrous (a bit different than the definition we use in MDG)
In the physical world, ambidexterity is the ability to use both hands with equal skill and versatility. In business, it’s the ability to manage strategy and execution with equal competence. In some companies, this is known as being “bilingual”: able to speak the language of the boardroom and the shop floor or software center with equal facility. Ambidextrous managers can think about the technical and operational details of a project in depth and then, without missing a beat, can consider its broader ramifications for the industry.

4. Clarify Everyone’s Strategic Role
The people in your day-to-day operations — wherever they are, and on whatever level — are continually called upon to make decisions on behalf of the enterprise. If they are not motivated to deliver the strategy, the strategy won’t reach the customers
5. Align Structures to Strategy
Set up all your organizational structures, including your hierarchical design, decision rights, incentives, and metrics, so they reinforce your company’s identity: your value proposition and critical capabilities

6. Transcend Functional Barrier
Unfortunately, many companies unintentionally diminish their capabilities by allowing functions to operate independently. It’s often easier for the functional leaders to focus on specialized excellence, on “doing my job better” rather than on “what we can accomplish together.”
7. Become a Fully Digital Enterprise (This is clearly the future. For those Horizon 3 Decision Criteria, I believe this should be included almost as a given—not an option)
The seventh principle should affect every technological investment you make — and with luck, it will prevent you from making some outdated ones. Embrace digital technology’s potential to transform your company: to create fundamentally new experiences and interactions for your customers, your employees, and every other constituent.
8. Keep It Simple, Sometimes
Many company leaders wish for more simplicity: just a few products, a clear and simple value chain, and not too many projects on the schedule. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way. In a large, mainstream company, execution is by nature complex.
9. Shape Your Value Chain
No company is an island. Every business relies on other companies in its network to help shepherd its products and services from one end of the value chain to the other. As you raise your game, you will raise the game of other operations you work with, including suppliers, distributors, retailers, brokers, and even regulators.
10. Cultivate Collective Mastery
The more bound your company is by internal rules and procedures for making and approving decisions, the slower it becomes. Hence the frustration leaders have with the pace of bureaucracy, in which people can’t make decisions because they don’t know what the strategic priorities are — or even what other stakeholders will think. In a world where disruption has become prevalent, your company can’t afford the time or expense of operating this way.

The alternative is what we call collective mastery. This is a cultural attribute, often found in companies where strategy through execution is prevalent. It is the state you reach when communication is fluid, open, and constant. Your strategists understand what will work or not work because they talk easily with functional specialists. Your functional specialists know not only what they’re supposed to do, but why it matters. Everyone moves quickly and decisively, because they have the ingrained judgment to know who to consult, and when. People trust one another to make decisions on behalf of the whole.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How do we get our middle managers back into a growth mindset?

Great summary and very consistent with the tenets of MDG.

Start with a portfolio view.  Every business has some activities that keep its core operations healthy.  Those should be job #1, as if the core isn’t working well nothing else will either.  You can’t launch a new business on a shaky foundation.  But, just working on the core, in a transient advantage context can really get you into trouble when an old advantage fades away.  So you need a few projects that have the potential to be a big part of your next core business.  My buddy Geoffrey Moore calls these H2 projects, but whatever you call them there need to be some in your portfolio.  Finally, you have what I call options, which are small investments you’re making today to buy  you the right to make more substantial investments in the future.   People need to understand what part of the portfolio they are responsible for driving.  Further, you need to make a critical distinction between low-uncertainty and high-uncertainty contexts.  The options are high-uncertainty situations and need to be managed with a different set of disciplines, emphasizing discovery and experimentation.

Make your growth goals clear. People are much better at seeing how they can make a transition to a new way of working if this is connected to a clear and measurable set of outcomes.  “Gain market share in Europe” is a lot less clear than “Add at least 2 new customers, increase the number of services our existing customers buy by 25% and increase the total number of inquiries we receive by 20%”.  People can see far more clearly what to do if they understand the levers you are trying to push.

Align incentives. You’re never going to drive a growth mindset with incentives oriented toward cost-cutting and hunkering down.

Get smarter.  It’s a funny thing – for almost every other practice in a company, there is recognition that you need to learn the right practices and develop the right capabilities to reliably accomplish a goal. Yet when it comes to growth –  particularly innovation-led organic growth – companies very often start from scratch as though it had never been done before.  

Start small, experiment, and learn from intelligent failures.  All too often, growth programs are announced with great fanfare and much enthusiasm but wither under the weight of later disappointments.  To get started, find a few opportunities that would allow your people to practice the new behaviors you are trying to encourage