Complexity is all around us. We not only see this in our personal lives but we feel it even more in our business lives, especially if you work in marketing. Marketing is a great example of how the business world has changed. There are now more ways to engage with customers than ever before and this seems to change on an almost daily basis. Just in the last week, the arrival of Pokemon Go has provided another means by which brands can effectively engage and interact with customers.
The challenge with complexity is how to deal with it. Most businesses respond by either adding more structure and processes or they try and force people to work in a certain way through off-sites and team events. The reality is that both approaches try and force a way of working on the individual that usually restricts their ability to operate in an optimal way. The individual ends up spending more time managing the complexity and their workload rather than actually doing the work and delivering value.
The Boston Consulting Group have created a great guide to helps teams overcome the complexity challenge. They call this “Smart Simplicity” and they have published a book called Six Simple Rules on this very subject. In addition, they have distilled the highlights into an eBook which you can access here.
The six rules are highlighted here:
- Understand what your people do
- Reinforce integrators
- Increase the total quantity of power
- Make cooperation happen
- Extend the shadow of the future
- Reward those that cooperate
I would like to take this opportunity to apply these to a marketing procurement team. In this way, I would like to provide some recommendations on how one might be able to overcome complexity, and the resulting resistance that ensues, to deliver sustainable value.
1.Understand what your people do
First of all, know what outcome marketing are trying to achieve. Then find out what is happening in the process to achieve this. Investigate the supply chain end-to-end and identify what resources are at work and where there are constraints or issues. Map this out and look at ways to remove waste and increase the flow from one stage of the supply chain to another. In this way outcomes will naturally be improved as the supply chain is more optimal and everyone benefits from the additional value created.
This is about achieving cooperation. Cooperation is different from collaboration. Cooperation is helping others achieve their goals whereas collaboration is where a groups of individuals work together to achieve a collective team goal. This is all about finding a common area of value and aligning everyone to achieving it. You need to find a way to make your goals relevant to the goals of your colleagues.
3.Increase the total quantity of power
If you wish to help increase the ability of your colleagues to create more value, then arm them with the data and insights to make better decisions. This intelligence not only comes from analytics but also from the experience of others. Help colleagues become better informed through “Network Intelligence” by giving them the information they need when they need it but by also connecting them with others who can add expert advice, perspectives and recommendations.
4.Make cooperation happen
Create an environment where marketing rely on procurement for certain tasks etc. The first task, once you have gained control over the end to end supply chain, is to ensure clear definition of roles so overlaps are removed and interdependencies are created. Then look at the decision points and agree on how these will be handled so there is collective ownership on how the entire supply chain is managed. This way everyone has skin in the game and some ownership in the final outcome, not just part of the process.
5.Extend the shadow of the future
Establish a culture of continuous learning. Make sure that performance is evaluated and that validated learnings are captured and applied to all subsequent activities. This becomes more dynamic, when everyone is invested in the outcomes, so make sure everyone is involved up to the point of final delivery. In addition, by taking this approach, when issues do arise these need to be resolved as a team. This way, everyone is exposed to and has a responsibility to resolve them.
6.Reward those that cooperate
Agreeing desired outcomes upfront is clearly paramount but it is making sure that everyone is recognised for achievement against those that really stimulates cooperation. In other words, reward and recognise marketing for making costs savings at the same time that procurement is rewarded and recognised for delivering better outcomes.
I hope this provides some food for thought. We know that business is challenging and becoming ever more complex. That is why, at LeanPie, our mantra is to strive for simplicity, without adversely impacting the value of the outcome. As Albert Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
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