Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"Progress is made by correcting the mistakes resulting from the making of progress." Claude Gibb

"I don't care about what people say about me. I do care about my mistakes." Socrates

"I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life." Ayn Rand

Today's image: Creativity by Proverbs 31:10. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. The photographer's taken name is a reference to the verse "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." (King James)

"How did we get here?"
Nine keys to success
in three steps

The question you and your team need to discuss daily.

First, do your homework.

The beginning of understanding is perspective. An acceptance of ignorance. A dedication to discovery.

Robert D. Kaplan is a fine writer because he sincerely appreciates the present within relation to its past. His work benefits from the incredible benefits of deep context. A keen observer of the present he understands he is jumping into a story already in progress. A story with a past relevant and critical to grasping the present.

Please permit me to suggest a practical guide. We use this construct on the day job and it consistently produces excellent results. Trade secret: this process has helped us to avoid repeating serious mistakes of the past. This helps clear the "fog" often found in turnarounds.

1. Develop a history. Using all resources available construct a storyline, a timeline of the past.

2. Invite discussion. Post and distribute the timeline. Ask "What happened?" Solicit insight (e.g., "2005 was our best sales year. Why? What made that happen? What did we do then that we are not now doing? Who were the players that made that happen?")

3. Connect the dots. Develop a story, a narrative, for how we got to where we are today.

4. Proof the story. Again, invite discussion. Post and distribute the story. Solicit editorial (e.g., "Please review and correct, adding anything we missed, suggest any changes needed to get this right.")

5. Reflect. What lessons have we learned? What worked? What failed? Why?

6. Decide. How do we best move forward knowing what we know now? This is the most difficult key. Be decisive! Set your course. Commit without reservation. Burn your bridges behind you, set fire to the boats on the shore. No turning back. Forward!

7. Involve. Share the story. Get everyone involved, focused, on the same page. Clearly communicate expectations and consequences. Set high standards. Invite, encourage feedback.

8. Execute. Put your plan into action. Second most difficult key. Move forward. Measure. Discuss. Learn. Tweak. Learn. Cut from the herd those not performing. (Howard is closing 600 US Starbucks stores that are not performing, he's right)

9. Reward. Recognize success, celebrate achievement. Catch people doing something right and make a big deal out of it. Recognition matters most and yields the best ROI.

Second, keep a tight accounting of what's happening, what's not happening and what you are doing to influence the action. Measure constantly. Discuss daily. Keep asking the most important question: WHY? Think!

Third, listen carefully to the lessons of your ongoing discovery. Employ the advantages learned in the study of marketplace history, past and present. A better execution of a repeated "obvious" solution, one earlier failed, is rarely the most productive course. Be willing to admit the harsh possibility - It's not the execution that was bad, the solution, no matter how powerful or obvious the notion, may not be an effective option. Study the attributes of the winners. Discover what they have in common. True story: In one case we found the market leaders (historically) all used out of home media more than any other marketing channel. We directed, counter-intuitively (our local agency said it was a really bad idea and it was, in fact, a poorly ranked out of home market), all of our available resources into the out of home channel and gained significant share almost overnight. Don't fight the flow. Study, discover, learn and respect the nature of market flows. As the great, gifted team of Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson taught me "Know the territory."

Measure > Discuss > Reflect > Decide > Involve > Execute > Reward

Classic counsel: Legendary programming and marketing ace Paul Drew "Give them reasons to stay longer and reasons to come back." One of the top ten "best practices" lessons provided to our interactive clients (also voted by our most successful interactive clients as one of their top ten "most valuable" lessons learned).

Signal vs Noise: What's your favorite Twitter feed to follow (and why?). Thanks to Sarah Perez for the tip.

Bonus: Michael Rosenblum Learning To Live With Infinity Bravos, Michael!

More Grapes Argentina: San Felipe, Malbec, Roble 2007. Nine months in American oak. (Thanks to Whole Foods for the tip). Pascual Toso, Malbec, 2007. Two Mendoza reds under $10. Great values.

Congrats & cheers: reboot10. Nadja Pass offers Freedom is. The talented media performer Cara Carriveau joins WTMX as midday personality.

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