Strategy has taken on such a broad definition and connotation of power that everyone, everywhere wants to be a strategist. The truth is that organizational challenges are typically not driven by lack of strategy, but rather by misalignment on the execution of and budgetary support for strategic priorities. These issues can be compounded by organizational silos, especially where strategic priorities involve systems that lie between departments – as is often the case with efforts to drive audience engagement. Additionally, strategic goals that can’t be tracked and measured will never result in answers or progress. Making the case for budgetary or other support of cross-organizational initiatives is much easier when those initiatives are aligned to strategic goals and have their own clear and measurable outcomes.
What are the rules in your organization for moving your strategy forward? Governance compliments strategy by creating the path for enabling action. While collecting feedback from all people all the time would be ideal, the practicality of our working days and the time-sensitive nature of activities in the marketing and communications space do not allow for total consensus. Having a governance structure in place that clearly delineates accountability, responsibility, and communication channels work to reduce choke points. Counterintuitively, added layers of process can lead to more organizational agility, rather than less, by empowering everyone with a common vocabulary and rules of the road for moving content and ideas to your audiences.
Strategy & Governance Includes
Strategic Goal Alignment
Are the strategic goals and objectives you’ve outlined for your marketing and communications engagement efforts aligned with the overall organizational goals? Can you create a report that tracks the impact of your email marketing toward these higher level goals of revenue or organizational positioning? Clear alignment between outcomes of audience engagement efforts and broader organizational goals is a valuable tool during difficult decision making and prioritization of organizational resources. Communicating how goals are aligned throughout the organization also translates into clarity of operations and responsibilities among staff and across departments.
Strategic goal alignment helps:
- Clearly articulate expectations and desired end state
- Reduce tension between departments and teams by clarifying responsibilities
- Measure performance across various tactical streams
- Build the internal case for budgetary or other resource allocations
Product & Portfolio Management
Product management sounds like something for, well, a product company. But what tools are in your engagement stack that are not digital? So often budget is allocated to run a project and when it completes there is frustration over the notion that there will be ongoing costs for maintenance and upkeep. However, if you can change the narrative from project expense to product investment, it is easier to help everyone see how the product – a website, analytics framework, asset platform, or marketing automation system – is connected to achieving the organizational goals and not just holding a spot in the digital world of noise.
Moving further, you can take each product and map it into a portfolio of audience engagement tools to help with investment choices year over year. The portfolio view is a layer higher than the products and it ties in information on staff capacity and capabilities to show gaps and needs, annual budget allocations across the portfolio to understand what investments can help you not just maintain portfolio health but increase the overall effectiveness of the portfolio as a whole.
We work with our clients to further ensure there is a direct tie from product to portfolio to organizational goals. This provides great business intelligence and removes doubts about spending on marketing and communications efforts.
Product and Portfolio Management can help you:
- Move from managing one-off project expenses to product investments
- Change the frame from one-time expense to investment that returns on objectives
- Provide a framework for decision-making between adding staff, new technology or changing your engagement architecture
- Provide visibility for the executive office into how your portfolio plays into the overall goals and objective targets for the organization
Facilitation & Consensus Building
Ever been working on an effort that just gets stuck and can’t move forward? Design decisions hit a crossroad, operational tactics are leading to frustration across units, multiple stakeholders and various opinions are not adding up to a resolution.
Sometimes a third party can provide a perspective and driving force to help gain consensus and alignment by facilitating the uneasy discussions – whether those are within a team, across departments, or even among multiple vendors supporting your portfolio of engagement architecture tools and products. We have developed an approach that enables us to drop in and quickly assess the situation from various perspectives, then lead group discussions to reset and align on desired outcomes.
Strong facilitation helps teams:
- Identify the commonalities, pain points and anomalies in perspectives
- Build a shared understanding of goals, objectives and desired outcomes among executive stakeholders and staff
- Develop a tactical plan to reset and complete stalled efforts
Every major effort is part of a change that your organization is trying to enact. However, it is not always clear what the change will yield and why it must happen now. Change management is about creating impact plans that address the natural uncertainties and anxieties that happen during these times of organizational adaptation.
Communications and impact planning are critical to achieving acceptance and success for new endeavors. Preparing your team for something new is one part tactical training and another part of helping them see the value of the change for the work they are doing–not just that their operational processes are being upended for change’s sake.
Change management helps by creating:
- A tactical, methodical, and efficient approach to change management to increase adoption and acceptance
- Communications strategies for collecting inputs and feedback as well as sharing updates
- Guidance for ways to achieve stakeholder and employee buy-in
Planning and Roadmap Development
Being tasked with a multi-year effort or a product plan with multiple systems and staff touchpoints can be daunting. How can you be sure what the best next steps are, where the tradeoffs might be and how the work you do will be cumulative and not result in stopping, scrapping and starting over. Development of roadmaps and both product and portfolio level planning will help you get your mind, and hands, around the various elements that will be a part of your journey. This planning and mapping will help build confidence and understand where there might be bumps in the road and what points are most critical for delivering and showing progress to your stakeholders.
Don’t stall out over trying to have the perfect roadmap, we work with our clients to implement adaptable approaches that take into account the realities that will occur, even though we can’t label them at launch.
How this helps:
- Presents a timeline and plan to understand the course of projects or entire portfolios of engagement tools
- Reduces anxiety from stakeholders about expectations
- Accommodates and adapts to changing landscape in real time without losing focus on bigger vision goals
- Provides cost-effective risk mitigation