Make It Happen
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Strategic Planning

Would you rather be a reporter, or a columnist?

Reporters have a great combination of investigative skills, communication skills, moxy, and pluck. Columnists are made from the same raw material, but they get paid far more.  Why?

Readers care more about what a particular person is saying than what a generic person says. Said another way, a staff reporter is generic, while a columnist has a brand. This is true in just about every field of endeavor, and is doubly true for your organization:

  • You will pay more for a “name act” than for a no-name band.
  • You will pay more for name-brand computer than a clone.  (And you’ll pay more for an Apple computer than a name-brand Windows computer.)
  • You will pay more for a name brand advisor than a no-name one.

While price itself is part of brand signalling, the underlying brand question is how to imbue value to your organization’s brand.  The answer has nothing to do with your strategy, your marketing tactics, or your logo.  Building brand value is directly derived from your organization’s values.  This means:

  • Having a clear set of underlying values.
  • Communicating these values, internally and externally.
  • Living those values every day: from the leadership team to the front line to any volunteers.
  • Building processes and systems that reinforce these values.
  • Rewarding values-enhancing behaviors.

Missing even one of these bullets renders them one step short of useless.  A case in point: large organizations have codified values (as in “mission/vision/values”), often generated through a strategic planning process.  But ask anyone in the front lines what these values are (let alone what they mean), and you will likely draw a blank stare.

This week’s action plan:  What is true for the organization, is doubly true for you as an individual.  This week, spend some time looking in the mirror: have you even considered writing down your personal values? And what are you doing to live your values, and thereby grow your personal brand?  Do it right, and you won’t just be a capable reporter, you’ll become a great columnist.

Marketing insight:  Organizations that are strong on the inside are also strong on the outside.  The more aligned each person is within the organization, the more powerful the organization’s brand will be.  This has implications for recruiting, orientation, management style, client or member service, support – everything.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

www.108ideaspace
.com
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com

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Have you ever had a problem – or a disastrous – project in your organization?  When this happens, it is often “clear” that the problem is with the consultants hired to help, and sadly, this is often true. But is some of the fault also with your organization?  While a previous post looked at issues from an external perspective, this post looks in the mirror:  can a project be structured in a way that can minimize the potential for it to go off the rails? And more specifically, what are some of the root factors that you might do something about?

  • Inconsistent leadership buy-in:  While most projects do have an executive sponsor, to be successful, most projects cut across organizational silos.  If the other groups do not see the project as important – and they get their lead from their executive managers – it is unlikely that they will spare the needed time.  Or worse, their disinterest (or unwillingness to change) may result in the project being sabotaged.
  • No internal project lead:  No matter how good the external consultants are, they don’t know your organization the way you do.  They don’t know your history, culture, affected stakeholders, nor can they fully interpret the political cues.  On a practical level, an internal project lead can wrangle internal resources, help with logistics, and be accountable for project progress.
  • Day job issue for resources:  Every project requires internal time commitments.  Staff are engaged during the discovery part of the engagement, during analysis and validation cycles, during training, and during the roll-out.  In fact, this engagement is precisely what will drive user buy-in and ultimately, a successful project. Yet these very same resources already have a day job, responsibilities, and deadlines.  Most will accept some additional work, but if the demand is excessive, or for two long a period of time, something will suffer: either their core responsibilities, or the project.
  • Inadequate budget:  As a higher ROI is a direct function of how low the cost can be driven, not unsurprisingly, there is great pressure to reduce the budget as much as possible.  If the internal time budget is limited, then analysis and training suffer – leading to the project’s benefits never being realized.   And if the external time budget is limited, then the opportunity for knowledge transfer (and the incorporation of best practices) is similarly limited.  In either case, project risk increases dramatically.
  • Inflated expectations:  It is too easy for both vendors and their internal sponsors to oversell both the ease of implementation, and the ultimate benefits of the project.  In some cases, expectations are so inflated that no matter how successful the project might be, it will be judged a failure. Realism, pragmatism, and perhaps a small dose of cynicism are far more healthy.

This week’s action plan:  Are all of your projects going exceptionally well?  Or do you think you just might be able to do better?  This week, review this list (and this one) and consider whether a slight mid-course correction – or a significant project pivot – can make a difference.

Management insight:  The best organizations use post-mortem meetings to understand how to improve in the future. This combined list of issues can also be used as a rating scale in these meetings: for each item, rate how well (or poorly) you did, along with how the grade might be improved on the next project.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

www.108ideaspace
.com
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com

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