Putting the ‘human element’ back in marketing

Paul Mitchell

As MD of the human enterprise, Paul Mitchell has a key message: You can build businesses that have a growth orientated entrepreneurial spirit AND which are truly human. That’s why he called his business “the human enterprise”. He has not altered his stand on this for over 30 years. Paul has spread this message to leaders from many cultures worldwide including Dubai, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, The United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. And still it resonates. Over 10,000 leaders have used his ideas and techniques to become the best leaders they can be. His past and present clients include global corporations such as Allergan, Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse, Franklin Templeton, Fujitsu, Jurlique, L’Oreal, Mars, Mondelez, NSW Department of Finance, Services & Innovation, NSW Department of Health, Oracle, PepsiCo, Red Bull, Rolls-Royce, SAP, St Vincent’s Health Australia, Thomson Reuters, Unilever as well as smaller entrepreneurial organisations and not-for-profits, which he always does for pro-bono. He specialises in the delivery of leadership coaching, leadership development programmes, leadership keynotes and facilitation services that have helped transform organisational cultures into truly ‘human enterprises’. Paul has a Bachelor of Social Science, Masters in Psychology, a Diploma in both Education and Hypnotherapy, is a registered Psychologist and a member of the College of Organisational Psychology. He enjoys family, golf, rugby union, snow-skiing, surfing, great music, piano, guitar, theatre, “the psychology of selves” and his charity of choice, Starlight Children’s Foundation.

During the recent CMO Momentum conference, Paul Mitchell shared how marketing leaders can create cultures that deliver

CMOs need to change their mindsets and learn how to create energy inside the organisation in order to take full advantage of organisational opportunities and deliver on executional successes.

Today’s environment demands a new way of thinking when it comes to energy. Traditionally, marketing leaders have focused on external integration with the marketplace and tended to give away their energy to outside influences.

As they integrate with consumers and customers, marketers are generally doing two things: Determining the needs and opportunities right now in the marketplace, and into the future; and matching current and future resources and capabilities that are required to external integrate. They’re talking about the sexy, hot button items and technologies like customer experience, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, omnichannel.

But largely, they’re still not delivering. So what’s happening?

According to Dr Ichak Adizes from The Adizes Institute, their energy is focused in the wrong place, resulting in internal disintegration. In other words, marketers are hampered by organisational politics such as interpersonal conflicts and dynamics, a lack of collaboration and difficulties thanks to a siloed approach. And if companies have too much internal disintegration, then mutual trust and respect go south.

Companies that want a great culture that delivers, need to build mutual trust and respect internally before they focus externally on their brand and customers. They have to put as much time into building these two factors as they do into building their marketing strategy.

Sure, marketing strategy is the ticket to the ballpark. But what’s happening is many CMOs - and many leaders from across other disciplines - get too caught up with external integration and fail to address when things are internally disintegrating.

How to beat internal disintegration

So what can marketers do to try to stop or minimise internal disintegration? First up, don’t get sidetracked by the new. Too often marketers think new is sexy and it makes them feel smart. This isn’t going to get you to where you want to be, however.

You really need to listen for the internal disintegration in your organisation. Marketing plans and strategies go awry and don’t make an impact quite simply because the company failed to pay attention to the internal components needed to make it a success.

Like Groundhog Day, companies tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Companies need to recognise the problems, the challenges, hurdles and the ‘barnacles’ in order to move forward. It’s the companies that don’t have enough space, cadence and forums to capture ideas from the whole business that tend to fail.

When companies have a culture that’s not delivering, it doesn’t just mean the CMO’s strategy wasn’t too good or wasn’t appropriate. It’s often because the CMO didn’t pay enough attention to internal disintegrators: those things that stifle strategy. All companies must look at the stiflers before the strategy if they hope to get anywhere.

So when your company is introducing anything new, go back and ask what was done last year that worked and what didn’t work. Analyse why it did or didn’t work, all with the context of assessing why and how it might have been stifled or not.

In addition, CMOs need to recognise it’s their job to manage change and disruption. This ultimately generates both problems and opportunities.

As the CMO, you need to raise awareness of the problems. There’s no doubt the ability of senior leaders and teams to quickly identify problems and opportunities and act on them will determine company success. To get to that point, don’t look at strategy first, look at identifying problems and opportunities from the get-go and fostering the agility and the energy to act on them.

Key questions to ask are: What’s the change? What’s the disruption? What problems does it bring up? What opportunities does it bring up? And how do we manage it?

Take ownership

What I’d also suggest is CMO’s problems with execution largely stem from their inability to solve their own problems internally. It is not a marketing issue - the problem is we don’t know how to solve our own problems.
So how do you do that? Start by working on the conflicts. At any organisation, there are a range of different conflicts that arise. Also, recognise conflict gets in the way of speed.

The quicker CMOs can identify the disruption, look at the problem, get the opportunity solved and manage the conflict, the more likely it is their company will always be in business and always executing.
Furthermore, CMOs must be ready and willing to talk about conflict. Move towards the tension or it will go underground and kill you. Put the issue on the table, with as much mutual respect and trust as possible, because the issue has energy. Either use that issue for the energy going forward, or risk being derailed.

Make a decision and implement

One of the biggest conflicts is around roles and styles of management.  Determining who’s who in the team will make for more successful outcomes.

Again, according to Dr Adizes, there are four key roles that affect culture and have the power to generate conflict: Producer, Administrator, Entrepreneur and Integrator (PAEI). Cultures that deliver often go through the filter system of these important four functions.

The Producer wants things now, wants the outcome and doesn’t want to know about the ‘labour’ pains. They want a result right now and in the present. The Administrator, on the other hand, is all about efficiency, with standard operating procedures, return on net assets, margin, and cash flow.

The Entrepreneur is long-term focused and fixated on vision, while the Integrator brings it all together and balances the needs and demands of the other three functions, integrating both people and systems.

If CMOs want great decisions that deliver great culture, they have to think about the short-term gains (P), efficiency (A), long-term gains € and overall integration (I). Marketing leaders often wearing the entrepreneurial hat (E) need to embrace the Integrator (I) role in order to be great leaders.

The CMO can be a strong Entrepreneur, but they and the business will fail long-term if they don’t have the integrator aspect in their arsenal. Integration is vital for the connection, collaboration and community required for success.

Finally, in companies where cultures deliver, there’s a coalescence of three things: Authority (formal/legal right to make decisions, to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’); Power (capability of granting or withholding expected cooperation); and Influence (capability to get someone to do something without using formal authority or power).

CMOs who put as much energy into stemming internal disintegration as they do into externally integrating with their customers and consumers, can considerably raise the possibility of creating cultures that truly deliver.

Tags: management, Management Performance, CMO role

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