Friday, November 13, 2009

Core Value Statement

Still musing about C-Levels and the conversation about success.  Attributes, skills and talent surely do make up a hefty portion of what I call The Success Equation and then there are the values.  Are they ethical?  Are they trustworthy?  I watched a company slowly be destroyed through bad decisions, and bad juju.  It took more than 20 years.  The company had some of the industry's best minds and talent (who are incredibly successful today) - and a totally unique culture that survived multiple acquisitions and management-team changes.  After a while, many of us looked to senior management as rotational.  We all worked and did our jobs despite whoever was occupying corner offices.  I knew I had my fill when I looked at a VP and said, "Let me understand this... I need to teach you what I do for this company, so you can tell me if I do it well?"...  Oh yeah, time to make a change. 

Want to Move Up? Learn to Manage Like a CEO

I read this article, and I laughed out loud.  I established pretty good relationships with a lot of CEO's, in my 30+ years of working .... and I happen to agree with all that Steve Tobak said, and those who added their comments.  They were all good observations and recommendations.  I even have a few of my own (based on my experience).  The C-level executives that I have admired in my life, listenedReally listened.  I enjoyed a unique position.  Almost along the lines of a confidant to several.  They earned my trust, and I earned theirs.  I didn't tell them what they wanted to hear - I told them what they needed to hear. Sometimes I was even a little disrespectful.  But now let me tell all you CEO's and C-Levels another side you need to know about.  Once you gain the respect and the loyalty ... don't break it, or deceive it.  In addition to working with several CEO's that I truly admired, there were those who broke the trust.  Who feathered their nest and their cronies... who never really cared about the company or the people who made up that company. To truly be successful, you must establish a trust - and that trust - flows right through the organization and into your customer's mind.  It's called Brand Trust and it starts with you.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LESSONS LEARNED - Event Management - ADA compliance

If you want to be sure a property is ADA compliant - do a site inspection in a wheelchair, especially the sleeping rooms.  Make sure you can reach the outlets, the phone, open the dresser drawers, open the closet - where is the iron?  Try to sit on the toilet - reach the sink - get the towels.  Find out the dimensions of the largest wheelchair - and see if the doorway into the room is wide enough; then look at the space between the bed and the wall... how about light fixtures... where are the switches.  How about that thermostat?  Where is it?  How high?

It's better if dressers do not have drawers, if all electrical is easily accessible by drop switches, if internet connections are not under a desk or on the wall above the desk or lamp... sinks need to be usable and faucets within reach.  They need to have access to and use of all the features in that room

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why are companies scared of Social Media?

“I don't think it is a fear-factor, as much as a question of making a commitment to use and master the new media as part of a communications platform. Once upon a time, companies planned for quarterly, semi-annually, monthly, weekly or annual campaigns. Now, the new dynamics have us thinking on our feet - daily. Taking the plunge requires dedicated resources who can keep the information fresh, consistent and responsive. It's a living media platform. No one should be afraid... it's dynamic.”

What marketing process is most effective for a junior marketing team to learn?

“One of the keys to getting a young team up and running quickly - is by giving them the information and resources that enable them to work alone, or know what questions need to be asked and who to ask.

During the time I have worked with start-ups and small companies, one of my techniques has been to create Rules of Engagement and Key Processes and Practices Guidelines. This is particularly valuable when socialized across an organization. If none exists, while a team is going through the program process, they have the opportunity to document real-time, what it takes in the current organization.

This enables the team to know other departments and how they impact Marketing's specific objective, their role in working with Marketing, what information they can provide and details the working relationships between the departments.

Standardizing materials removes the mystery and lessens the need for executive involvement through the project, except for project review meetings and an "as-needed" basis. Early practices in assigning and delegating projects should include a department kick-off meeting where marketers understand the project summary and objectives, target dates, company sponsors or key participants, resources, budgets, etc. If it is a campaign - they would have guidelines that detail a program from inception through to execution and implementation, along with milestones and checklists.

Guidelines should define types of program development, the elements, the timetables, turnaround, program participants, etc. This type of control not only informs, it helps establish a level of expectation, and if done early in an organization, will grow and expand as the company does. Most importantly, this type of knowledge share enhances efficiency and expediency by reducing (or eliminating) guesswork. I started this practice in administration, and carried it over into management.”

Is Social Media the New Grail?

“New Grail? No. I see the new medias as a higher octave marketing tool; very fluid, living, and real-time. It provides a fabulous tool for the marketer to get in depth information on prospects, clients and competitors. It reduces (if not totally eliminates) the distance that previously existed between a company and its market, and enhances the opportunity to create truly targeted marketing and gather real-time client knowledge FAST. For illustration, think about how we developed relationships in the 70, 80's and 90's.

In my case, we had what was called a "Customer Visit Program". This was a sales tool for both prospects and customers. If an Account Executive wanted to have a prospect or client visit corporate, they had to show detailed reason why this visit was needed - the purpose of the visit and their level of knowledge concerning this prospect or customer's needs. It was my job to pull together all of the internal talent, i.e. product development and engineering, customer support and the executives in the corner offices.

No two visits were the same. The CVP was a valued investment on the part of the company and treated respectfully. In advance of the visit - in addition to providing backgrounds on the company, the key individuals who were coming in, their specific areas of responsibility and expertise, the history with us or our competitors, what our objective was, what our competitors were doing, what sites could we bring them to demonstrate - real time - our products and capabilities - we met with each of the corporate participants. If it was an international organization or government ministry - we learned about the culture, the protocols and differentiators.

We provided Executive Briefings - and the corporate representatives understood what was expected of them and the significance of their presence and credibility at the table.

The new medias make this type of knowledge gather-and-share painless - literally abbreviating the process and has increased the volume on knowing your market, prospect, client or competition. It further enhances a company to speak in the vernacular of their audience - and leaves little wiggle room for not knowing your market and the perception of you and your product. This is a good thing.”

Everybody wants to be a Pepper...

Dr.Pepper is considered a new media success (based on the referenced article). Using social media advertising correctly.

Succession & Sustainability Planning - What's the Problem???

I've been an advocate of succession planning even before I knew I was. I would always put projects, or even my corporate function, into a handbook. My attitude was "if I get hit by a truck, someone needs to be able to pick up a book and know what I was working on, and what has to be done." That's when I also adopted the expression "The stations of the cross may be a mystery, but your job shouldn't be." So now I am researching succession planning - and sustainability. Mentoring your replacement, blah blah blah.
I worked with a lot of people who thought what I advocated threatened job security. I watched how people would scamper about to figure out what a former employee was working on - or what had to be done. What projects were at risk, and so on. Which might also explain why I'm still seeing how companies are struggling with succession planning and sustainability models -- it may inherently present an internal conflict to a culture that nurtures secrecy helps job security. "The need me" mentality.
Anyway, in my research, I came across a paper "Succession Planning & Management and Leadership Sustainability Through Professional Learning Communities" by WB Hall. It's a terrific 6 page paper that I'd be happy to send you, and while it was written for academia -- the essence and message is just as applicable to the business community and a great message for aspiring leaders. Oh, and I'd like to share a great line from it...

"As educational leaders, we have heard there are no Silver Bullets; or if such bullets do exist, they certainly do not work, are too costly, or are too impractical. I maintain a few Silver Bullets do exist. The problem has always been that we simply have never had a gun capable of firing any of them." WBHall, 2007.

Great line.