Correctly "righting" your organization
Usually I write about things close my heart… marketing, sales and Sarketing™*. However, last April I read an article through one of my online government marketing discussion groups that has continued to haunt me, causes me to re-read it often and is appropriate for us all to consider with our respective businesses.
“Are we structured right for the economy, today’s environment and the future?”
And, as we look at the question, it is important to understand that this is about both structure and “rightness”. Let me better explain through some thoughts about clients who we see best “righted” to compete for success. These are some of their traits:
• Willingness to evolve – Inevitably, the clients which whom we have the most success start with a willingness to understand that the business landscape is changing and that they need to evolve. Whether through triage crisis or healthy pro-active planning, this epiphany-like realization is essential.
For instance, In an office furniture industry that has consolidated from an industry high size of $ 14.7 billion tto less than $ 8 Billion in 2009 the effects from the need to evolve (or not) are accelerated. Without a commitment to evolution, we politely excuse ourselves from engaging because, ultimately, in this industry (and associated distribution channel) being assaulted from everyone from IKEA to Office Depot to Staples, those who don’t evolve will cease to exist regardless of the assistance rendered.
In this economy, these types of challenges are everywhere, evident in almost every industry and must be addressed.
•Right Size – $ 5 - $ 50 million dollar businesses are agile and adaptable. They can move, they can change direction, they can respond to competitive and customer influences quickly and efficiently.
Unless there is an extremely enlightened culture, a company over $ 100 million starts to sludge up in its own complexity, starts to become insulated from “the street” (and customers’) perspective and can’t respond to changes in the business landscape. In some cases, it causes the company to carve itself up into single business units or divisions, however, there still is energy consumed with reporting back to “the mother ship”, competing for resources and/or infighting.
•Skill Sets – We all know about the proverbial “right people on the bus”, but there also needs to be the right skill sets and intelligence present if there is to be success. This is where art meets need as finding the right, intelligent people with the right skills and common attitude is a special skill in itself.
Consistently with companies we can help, we see them spending an inordinate amount of time selecting the right combination of skill sets they need. Not only are they thinking about their present state, they also are visualizing in their mind what the next set of skill sets/people will be necessary for their next phase of evolution.
One of the companies with which we work has (among other skill sets) committed to an on-staff graphic artist who understands that there is a need for marketing to drive and support sales (hallelujah!). This skill set is not usually found in a company of this size. She is augmented by an outside marketing consultant with deep, specific knowledge of the industry and, like everyone in the company, they have a bias for action.
Because of this appropriate combination of skill sets, as we test sales tools with prospects, customers and even new vertical markets, they incorporate our feedback and needs into “real time” revisions, constantly improving the tools, and thus, addressing customer needs and adding clarity to concepts upon which prospects are stumbling.
It overcomes mistakes quickly, helps us develop go-to-market plans that are instinctively close to customers in terms of everything from the language they use to the needs/objections they need covered to the format in which they best take in their information. And, it allows us to respond more efficiently and correctly than our more complex competitors.
This company’s commitment to the core skill sets they need as their “DNA”, augmented by specific knowledge skill sets provided by consultants and combined with variable execution skill sets from independent contractors as needed is their specific “mixture” of skill sets they have carefully developed to support their growth.
Have you defined what the right core skill sets that absolutely are needed on-staff and which can be bought out? Which are too close to the essence and brand of the organization to be administered by others? Which are variable and which simply cannot be “homegrown”?
Conversing with my old friend, professor and marketing guru, Ben Rudolph (who I will miss as he is retiring), he reminded me as we were discussing GM’s woes that “companies have product lives” and that sometimes they outlive their usefulness and relevancy to the marketplace. Exploring the questions and traits above with gut-wrenching realism will help you stay reinvented and “righted”.
For what it is worth...
*For an explanation of Sarketing go to http://www.thebyersgroupllc.com/sarketing.html