Archive for June, 2017

Communicating at the Pace of Change

June 14, 2017

June9Collage

FountainBlue’s June 9 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of Communicating at the Pace of Change. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at 10Fold and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Julie Heck, Head of Marketing, Savvius
  • Panelist Alicia Johnson, Managing Director, Infrastructure Services, Accenture 
  • Panelist Fran Lowe, Vice President, 10Fold
  • Panelist Marisa Shumway, Sr Director, Marketing, AppDynamics

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such experienced, articulate, innovative and inspiring panelists for this event, representing different companies, roles, and backgrounds. Below are their collective thoughts and ideas which might help you think about how you can better communicate in this world of constant and fast-paced change.

Be strategic.

  • First know the vision and direction, and create messages in alignment with this shared objective.
  • The messages should be customized for each audience, factoring in their motivations, perceptions, as well as their preferred modes of communication – web, mobile, face-to-face, video, etc.
  • Most people today do their homework before they engage, researching their needs and the offerings. As a result: 1) be quick and clear about what sets your offering apart and strategies for getting from awareness to engagement to commitment, 2) offer self-selecting options and more entry points so prospects and customers can get the information and support they need, 3) work with PR teams to get the right communications to the right prospects, and 4) effectively communicate your offerings, your testimonials, your case studies.
  • We open to shifting (offering, pricing, communications and other) strategies quickly and strategically, should the customers and the data show there’s a need for you (and the industry) to do so.

Remember that you’re communicating with people. Be real.

  • Be authentic and real in all communications.
  • Build relationships, be human. People make decisions based on subjective and personal opinions, and rationalize their decisions based on facts.
  • Be crystal clear about what you do for whom and why they should care. And be prepared to communicate that to all stakeholders at any time, no matter what your role or responsibility is within the company.
  • If you consider that most people today have the attention span of a goldfish, communicate quickly in ways which resonate. To do so, identify the audience who would care and create a clear message which triggers an intended response.

Let’s talk about the data.

  • When you look at data, look not just at the ‘eyeballs’, but at the bigger picture.
  • Today’s marketers have a host of tools which generate a wealth of relevant, real-time data which can be leveraged for specific campaigns, to support sales and marketing initiatives and customer requirements. Adept marketers leverage these tools to understand how customers engage, what strategies are successfully facilitating engagement, which niche audiences respond to what communications, etc.,
  • Look at the data and the facts and results to limit the emotional, irrational and reactive responses. Being fact-focused not only helps you have better judgement, but it also enhances your brand as someone who is centered and calm even during times of stress, when the stakes are high, and getting it right is critical.
  • Focus on the problem in front of you, and collect the data which would help understand the cause behind a problem, without making it personal, without pointing fingers.

It takes leadership.

  • Be all-in, in thoughts, words and actions. Commitment and dedication lead to excellent results.
  • Results do not have to be perfect every time, all the time. But when the whoopses happen, taking ownership and communicating clearly and transparently and making corrections and amends will go a long way.
  • Don’t enlist in the crap-in, crap-out mindset around data. (Almost) anybody can make (almost) any data to support (almost) any conclusion. Leaders assess the intentions of the communicators, the validity of the data, the alignment of the decision with the overarching strategy etc.
  • Use your customer-brain and your coding brain when you communicate in a tech company. Be that translator when you’re working with people who get only one side or the other side of the brain.
  • Be clear on the overarching message for your company, and support employees, staff, partners, etc. in communicating in alignment with that message.

Below are collective thoughts on trends and questions based on those trends.

  • Reporters are disappearing. Business models around communication are evolving. What does this mean for your company?
  • There will continue to be a push-pull around privacy, security and access. What opt-in strategies would best work for your customers?
  • Personalization trends will continue to climb. How will your company shift its communications and operations to address the demand for personalized solutions and services from your customers?
  • Most forward-thinking companies are adopting digital strategies around communication. What is your company’s digital strategy? How are your customers responding to it?

The bottom line is that communication is a core leadership skill. No matter where you’re from geographically, what you’ve studied at school, what types of roles you’ve adopted, what you’ve accomplished to date, how many years you’ve worked, what gender you are, etc., your ability to communicate what you do for whom will define how successful you are in achieving shared goals. 

Befriending Dragons

June 11, 2017

PrincessDragon

There was once an ordinary princess who lived in an extraordinary world. It was a world where cars were driving themselves, where remote-controlled drones performed remarkable feats, where communications spread across the globe like wildfire. It was a world where the brilliant and hard-working earned massive amounts of money, influence and credibility, where world-changing solutions made daily headlines, where happiness and world peace were just a start-up, a funding, an exit away.

The princess was told her ideas lacked merit, by those who leveraged those ideas to conquer new lands. She was told her inexperience caused discord and indecision, by those who benefited from her new approaches to solving problems. She was told that her gowns were dated, and that the house coat suited her better anyway.

She was ousted from her castle, by those who claimed her throne. She was relieved of her treasures by those who swore to care for it. She told herself she preferred to live in the cottage at the foot of the castle, and wander with the animals in the forest.

Once, in her wanderings, she came upon seven wise men, on their way to work. She greeted them with surprise and pleasure, hungering for friendship. After a brief and pleasant interchange, they parted ways, agreeing to convene later in the forest at day’s end.

The princess told her story at the evening meal, and the wise men shared their advice on befriending dragons.

Dopey said, “If you’re the princess, why aren’t you on the throne?”

Sneezy said, “It’s because of those dragons. I also have an aversion to self-serving dragons. ah-choo”

Sleepy said, “What a great story. Let me sleep on it and get back to you.”

Doc said, “The best remedy is to regain your rightful place on the throne. Let’s go befriend those dragons. We can sleep now and tackle the dragons in the morning.”

Bashful said, “Do we have to face those dragons?”

Grumpy said, “Yes, Bashful. Doc’s right, if we have to face those dragons, let’s get it over with.”

Happy said, “Find a way to be happy, despite what dragons say and do. And choose new dragons you can be happy with.”

In the morning, the princess and her wise men marched to the castle and charmed, humored, cajoled them, while outwitting, outplaying, and out-maneuvering them, and otherwise conquering, ousting or be-friending them one by one. The princess regained her rightful place on the throne for many years to come, to the delightful of the good people of the castle.

*No dragons were harmed in the writing of this post.*

Facilitating Hyper-Growth

June 5, 2017

Concept of increasing sales from mobile online shopping

FountainBlue’s June 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Facilitating Hypergrowth’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Intel, who on-site support and joined in the interactive discussion, and to this month’s participating executives.

Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how we to facilitate hypergrowth from the people, process and technology perspectives. 

It’s always about the people. 

 

  • Create a company with a purpose and a culture of empowered leaders who are taking specific measures to achieve those goals. 
  • Look for people who are talented technically, yet also passionate about learning and making a difference. They must be challenged in a way that’s meaningful for them, stretching their thinking and their impact and their network and connections.
  • Invite initiative and input, and reward those who go the extra mile, and volunteer to participate in new and meaningful ways.
  • Look for, nurture and recruit those who are customer-centric.
  • Create an ecosystem of people and leaders from within and outside an organization, focused on a common goal and purpose.

 

Embrace a process that supports rapid growth.

  • Decide which processes help your business unit respond efficiently and effectively as defined by specific measurements. Replicate these processes elsewhere.
  • Adopt the SMURF perspective – process solutions which are Scalable, Maintainable, Usable, Reliable, Functional and Secure.
  • Decompose the processes into modules. Decide which modules should be automated and which ones should be individually customized. Design solutions integrating these modules.
  • Review and update your processes regularly to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

Adopt and Create Technologies in Demand

  • Keep an eye on the market, business and technology trends and design solutions based on those trends.
  • Hot areas for hypergrowth include IoT, Blockchain, Workflow solutions on the cloud, Security and privacy solutions for the enterprise, Software-enabled virtualization, Software-enabled networks, AI, AR/VR, Edge Networks, and unstructured data management

Below is a compilation of best practices for facilitating hypergrowth.

  • Dare to have an audacious vision for the future.
  • Enlist others to follow.
  • Embrace the thoughts and perspectives of people who don’t think-like-you, for she/he will represent a valid perspective as well.
  • Visualize the impact you can provide. Choose leaders who can help you visualize that impact. Communicate that impact in a way which would engage and enlist others.
  • Be specific on what you’d like to do, and versatile on how it could get done.
  • Act like the-little-engine-that-could, despite impressive opposition and incredible odds.
  • Lead the transformation to a digital solution, a digital culture… or risk being left behind.
  • Not everyone can get from here to there. Focus on those who will lead pivots, or are at least open to a pivot when necessary.

The bottom line is that it takes visionary leadership, exceptional execution, and continuous communication to ensure sustained hyper-growth. Select a company and a team that is poised for that hyper-growth, and contribute to the people, process and technology choices which would nurture and sustain that growth.