Just as shifting city and home and moving to a new place has its initial period of anxiety, change for an organisation in its business direction and operational processes, brings in anxiety, insecurity and with it a plethora of questions. This can and usually does affect the brand in the market-place.
Change in any form is uncomfortable for us humans. We are creatures of habit and habit breeds its own sense of comfort and discomfort. Take for example our daily work day routine. If one of the items in our daily ‘routine’ goes out of whack, we get irritated and are at a bit of a loss.
Business activities are managed by humans and thus when an organisation implements change from what it had done; it brings about a fair bit of response. Some good, some not so good and some downright harmful to the business. The ‘enthusiasts’ (or early adopters) latch on to the big picture that the changed direction portrays and willingly start to move forward in the new direction. The ‘yes sir/no sir’ (followers) go onto a ‘wait and watch’ mode to try gauge which way is the wind blowing. Lastly comes the ‘resistant brigade’! A group who clings on desperately to yesteryears and falls back on the achievements of the past years.
Each of these groups effect the brand’s identity in many ways:
1. Enthusiasts: In their eagerness to contribute to the new strategic direction rush into activity without deeply evaluating the ability of the brand to deliver on it and the long-term benefit (of the activity) to the brand and recruiting necessary manpower to deliver on the new mandates. Often the enthusiasts end up being the “Lone Ranger”—working long hours and alone leading to quick burnouts when operating at very high stress levels due to continuous delivery demands of tasks.
2. Followers: This group’s indecisiveness and inability to ask for clarity (and understanding) leads them to either do the work activity wrong or to take too long over it and thus deliver well after the timeline is gone. In effect, making the task inefficient.
3. Resistant Brigade: Often the largest group, these try to push back through the “this is how it was done” process with the intention that if continuous resistance can be applied by using defunct processes and bureaucratic red-tape then the enthusiasts would either burn their fire out or leave (attrition). All the resistance group succeeds in doing is (i) wasting critical time and (ii) damaging the brand image.
So, how do we manage to bring these groups to play ball together:
- Transparency: Line managers have to understand the change and explain, at length, how that change is beneficial (or required) and tie it back to the individual roles of staff and their function with regards to the effect it has on the brand’s identity.
- Top-down Leadership: Senior management has to have, in place, a support ‘team’ selected from rank & file (so as to assist in the detail work) to ensure successful delivery of key projects that would help to bring about the required change. This team should be provided written mandate as authority to put in place new processes and work flow to enable work flow change to take hold.
- HR in the Forefront: HR needs to be at the forefront in terms of evaluation of staff’s skills and capabilities to deliver on the new work flow. Planning for training and skills up-gradation become a priority.
- Deadline: An end target date for achievement of certain critical projects needs to be up in front. Critical projects that affect the brand identity (and image) should be selected from the pool of projects that is in active stage and be project managed through specific project teams.
What is the benefit of doing this?
- Easier management of key projects that achieve success– A holistic approach that identifies which are the critical projects and provides priority. This aids the organisation to have focus in their daily activity thus ensuring achievement of the planned revenue growth coupled with delivering the desired image.
- Putting in place a, small core team i.e. “the A-Team” so to speak that cuts across critical functions and champions the specific change management projects. This is the team on which senior management depends upon to take the brand forward internally.
- Getting efficient work flow processes in place which aid in forward planning of daily work.
Whilst change is never easy to manage or administer, the above are small steps which can help any organisation manage the daily process more effectively.
- Change Is Good: J Is for Justification (slalom.com)
I was going through some of my 2012 reading articles that I had liked and kept. One, in particular, stood out.
The headline says it all. Quite a provoking question!
Do we strive to be good at what we do at work, or is it all about having a skill that can be employed for any cause? And, therefore, we keep the ‘doing good‘ i.e. taking up a cause etc for the after work hours?
Well here’s the article from Fast Company. Have a read and I’d be delighted to hear your views on this, in here:
by Umair Haque in the HBR Blog Network.
As I read this post, a series of emotions coursed through me. Meangingful work is something we all seek. Yet, our perspectives are all very different at specific points in time. Meaning in work, itself, is governed by the state of emotions, at that particular point in time. From an all time high of achieving a goal, or being praised amongst your peer group, to the sense of utter frustration at the lack of progress or the inability to make others see your point for view.
Umair’s post, beautifully sums up the challenge we all face daily. Here’s a snapshot of the post for Benefit Point followers:
Reproduced from HBR Blog Network:
“I read your latest essay.” Arms crossed, eyes ablaze. “I don’t think you get it. At. All. I really don’t.”
I’d met Sophie, one of my mentees, for what I’d thought was going to be a pleasant chat over good coffee on a perfect autumn day.
“Meaning,” she muttered, staring darkly into her cup. And then glaring at me, continued, “What planet are you on? I’ve got student debt, credit card debt, an underpaid so-called job that makes me nauseous, a broken car, and a failing relationship.”
“Meaning,” she said again. This time, with scorn and a sneer. “Is a luxury. One that I can’t afford — and probably never will be able to. That’s reality outside the gilded cage and ivory tower. Get it?”.
Many of us, I’d bet, feel like this: in a hardscrabble age of austerity, the search for meaning is an unaffordable self-indulgence, the torrid affair that painfully breaks up the quietly satisfying marriage, an idly romantic daydream, the jackpot whose price is misfortune; that if one is to survive another lost decade, searching for meaning is something like mining the fools’ gold of life.
Click here to read the full article.
It’s that time of the year when most businesses get into their annual planning. NPO’s (Not for Profit Organisations) are no different. In fact, an NPO’s task is harder as one has to generate the required revenue to cover all costs & make enough to invest back into the business. In my current role, whilst looking at how best to market the institution and aid the service lines in achieving their financial and brand targets, I also delve into the organisational requirements in ensuring that the planned direction can be executed well.
The latter is extremely important and brought me to write this post.
“An organisation’s strategic success is totally dependent on its work culture & attitude”
I.E. the best of plans are executed by people. And getting all the people, all the time, on the same page can (and usually is) a bit of a ask. Whilst on paper a strategic plan, logically shows achievement, in implementation (and management) a lot of drops can happen.
So the question is how do we manage this?
Here’s my list of (what I call) critical “must-haves” that need to be in place in order to ensure that the planning exercise (in itself) is a success. After all without a strong foundation the entire exercise can be compromised resulting in ad-hoc-ism and a reactive approach to business opportunities.
- Team Structure: The right team structure needs to be in place.
- Debate: The C Level team should encourage discussion and debate (of course time-controlled else the exercise can simply go down the toilet) on key strategic issues and arrive at working directions. Debate helps in bringing forth innovative thoughts towards an issue at hand. After all—“two heads are better than one”.
Debating & discussing is very different from being argumentative. Culturally (in Asia), work cultures frown on debating a point with a superior. Whilst this stems from age-old cultural norms of respect, there are limitations to carrying this into work space given the requirements today.
Encouraging positive & constructive debate would enable the C level to obtain brilliant nuggets of insight into operational management which, in turn, would aid them to formulate strategy that is:
A) Owned by the executors and implementers—as they would have contributed to it through the debate.
B) The ownership would, automatically, bring about responsibility which then will ensure that the best is given to achieve the goals.
- Centralised Budgeting: The last item on my “must-have” list is budgeting. Whilst all business units and key function heads are great managers and subject matter experts, my opinion is that, the individual budgets should be drawn up in discussion with the CFO.
The CFO, next to the COO & CEO, is the person with full knowledge of an organisation’s planned investments, risk appetite and key financial milestones that need to be achieved to keep the meter ticking over. This helps a business unit head tremendously as the CFO will ask where the funds are coming from in order for a business unit to invest in required resources. In this process two things happen:
A) Prioritisation of resource need
B) Profit target milestone setting
Both, actually, are critical elements to the C level in terms of reporting to the board. Having it detailed out takes away the question the Board would, normally, ask.
To sum up:
- Identify the right people for the right job and empower them to use their skills, ability and intelligence. Don’t micro-manage them but debate with them. This will make the employees feel valued, responsible and part of a cause.
- Put aside prejudices and cultural norms and approach the task ethically i.e. Honestly and set time aside to have constructive discussions. Don’t instruct but request. You’d be surprised how far kindness (from a leader) goes with rank and file.
- Lastly make sure all key staff know who, where & how the entire organisational budgeting is being done. Provide clear communication so that staffs know what they have to provide to the CFO’s team and what responsibilities they have.
Article By Nandini Das Ghoshal
Reproduced here with permission of Insights & More:
Low Income and emerging markets are now the focus of almost all consumer product companies who have big growth ambitions. The next billion will come from there. This billion will not only include the lower income consumers in China, India or Brazil but also the newly emerging economies in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and the ASEAN regions.
However, foreign brands fail again and again with their communication at the launch stage and very often cannot really figure out the reason for that. Our analysis shows that there is deep sense of mistrust that exists amongst consumers in low income markets. Most of the time, they do not trust new brands and hence find their benefit articulation irrelevant.
Foreign brands need to be cognizant of this issue and address it right away.
Read the full article here:
I’ve had the privilege of being involved in organizational change management projects across three companies in my career. Does this make me a change management expert? No!
On the contrary the experience has given me the insight to the importance of tackling a company’s entrenched cultural behaviour and habits. Firstly you begin the arduous task of understanding and reflecting on what makes your people tick – in other words carefully chew over what you’re dealing with. Only after you recognise and value where the culture stems from can you begin the long road towards change management.
Organisations undergo change for a variety of reasons. In most cases the need for change is outwardly focussed i.e. competitive pressure, eroding margins, customer decline etc. Very rarely do organisations look inwards. That is looking at behaviours, capabilities, practices, in other words the organisational culture and how it impacts on the performance output of an organisation.
Why is it so critical to evaluate organisational culture?
Organisational culture is an amorphous element. When an organisation begins its journey, founding members create a work culture – processes, individual interaction norms, expected deliverable standards, representation of the organisational image etc. In some cases these practices become the foundation of the organisational culture, to which guidelines are gradually added. Ultimately the ‘foundation culture’ remains the same and is continuously fed through complimentary guidelines. However with such a rigid foundation, the organisation emulates the same behaviour, nurturing the same culture and promoting the same results over and over – a disadvantage in the long-term.
As we move into an era of globalisation with organisations evaluating different management techniques to deliver consistent branding across disciplines; what many change programs don’t account for is the “human resource” factor. The “human resource” is the root cause of behaviour and habits resulting in a company’s work culture. While organisations may have a consistent design identity across the globe and a consistent quality parameter in terms of deliverables, what they can’t control is the ‘representative’ of those two entities in the marketplace.
A particular “way” of doing business or the work flow process is in the end governed by the behaviour and habits of the executives, who sometimes do not differentiate between the personal and the professional. In other words an executive may behave, speak and act in the same manner with friends as he/she does with associates. Hence failing to appreciate that there is a significant difference in the outward projection of the two behaviours – one represents him or herself and the other his/her organisation. The latter is a behaviour inducing a certain image in the mind of business associates.
So the question to answer, when we undertake change management, is:
Can behaviour & habits be modified to bring a change in the work culture?
In short, Yes. But there is a caveat.
Organisational change is a leadership challenge. The leadership in an organisation must be clear in charting the change process. Clarity needs to be created across:
- Business Direction
- Job Roles & Functions (which need to be openly indicated in the organisational structure and linked to performance metrics)
- Transparent work processes
- Articulate priorities and established milestones, both communicated and explained
With a lack of clarity, executives function in isolation, interpreting - as best as they can – the business direction, what they are supposed to do and their attempt to fit into a deliverable culture, which at best delivers mediocre results. The consequence is a troubled culture that results in Organisational Chaos.
Organisational chaos is self-inflicted and undesirable, creating disorder and confusion. It leads to a lack of energy within an organisation and sabotages attempts to provide value to customers and satisfy stakeholders, generating a work culture that breaks employee spirits.
To tackle this chaos, you need recognition, action and resolute leadership.
This is where Benefit Point ends this race and passes on the baton to all would-be leaders. Post us your comments….
- Culture eats strategy – and it will eat your new processes too (flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com)
- Three Steps to a High-Performance Culture – from HBR Blog Network (benefitpoint.wordpress.com)
The global Muslim community at a staggering 1.57 billion people is a very large market segment that’s intriguing marketers, across product categories, for a variety of reasons. With a rising demand for products and services, fulfilling needs of day-to-day life to aspirational requirements and armed with strong purchasing power, the global Muslim community is a very attractive consumer segment to businesses.
From the perspective of market entry planning for a brand, it’s no different from entering any other market or segment.
- Identifying the key markets,
- Researching the impact of the existing product portfolio on the market segment,
- Evaluating the competitions’ actions to benchmark and obtain best practices and
- Doing an opportunity cost analysis to obtain earnings and brand sustainability are all part of the basic market entry planning.
But this is where the conformity changes!
Unlike other cultural consumer segments the global Muslim consumer segment is made up of a myriad of sociocultural sets that have been influenced by emigration (of the community) and adaptation to social and environmental norms of current place of residence and livelihood. Thus producing today’s Muslim consumer who has a strong , individual value system and identity that is based and governed by the core values of “Halal”(Halal is an Arabic term meaning “lawful or permissible” and not only encompasses food and drink, but all matters of daily life. Ref: isahalal).
An article in the Marketing Week highlighted that “Muslim consumers are a growing, influential and extremely loyal group, making them a desirable market for mainstream brands. But reaching them requires more than launching Sharia-compliant products. Making inroads to this sector takes a deep understanding of the values of this community and building the brand from there. They’re young, ambitious and worth at least $2 trillion globally”. The key words being “deep understanding of the values of this community and building the brand from there”.
Thus, simply communicating and delivering a fulfilling brand experience based on product or service innovations would not suffice for this segment.In order to win the loyalty of this segment the brand has to approach the relationship (with the Muslim consumer from a totally different paradigm). In order to gain the trust of this consumer, adherence to the required standards (halal guidelines) and transparency in (the brands’) operations and activities is a must.
Building a brand in this segment differs (from other consumer segments) in terms of risk and organisational demands.The risks should not be underestimated. They should be thoroughly studied and evaluated on two levels:
- Product/Brand level– A product and brand risk analysis will consider the impact that targeting the Muslim consumers might have on the organisation’s core global brand if the product is sold in non-Islamic markets.
- Corporate level– A corporate level risk analysis will take into account a wider view of potential transnational consumer activism, thereby, enabling the organisation to be ready to deal with at least three potential threats— social, political and financial.
- Social Risk: by virtue of their numerical strength and purchasing power the Muslim consumer can choose “not to buy”. Such “not to buy” acts are not uncommon. Recall the indignation and subsequently the impact the global Muslim community had over the publication of cartoons of our beloved Prophet (P.B.U.H) in a Danish newspaper. The subsequent lack of political and cultural empathy led to a widespread boycott of Danish products to the extent that even western retailers removed Danish products from their shelves due to fear of negative repercussions.
- Political Risk: Given the rising awareness of Islam, and a new-found resurgence of the Muslim identity, governments across Muslim countries have responded with regulatory changes. Malaysia, for example, has created its competitive advantage by promoting halal foods, Islamic Finance and halal tourism. Kuwait, had its first women ministers a year ago (ref:www.guardian.co.uk).
- Financial Risk: An existing organisation has to evaluate the potential ‘fallout’ that may occur through alienating the existing consumer base by entering the Muslim consumer segment AND also has to check potential revenue loss from not correctly serving the Muslim consumer. This needs to be balanced out versus the projected revenue growth expected from serving the Muslim segment.
Lastly, there is a risk of a “backlash” if the organisations are seen to be exploiting the Muslim consumer. With the rise of social media, and “interest based communities” being online 24/7, blurring geographical and cultural distinctions, a backlash (on a brand) can spread like bushfire through the global Muslim community in a matter of hours. Thus affecting the brand not in just one specific region but globally across the markets it’s present in. One way to minimise this risk is to ensure that the brands’ and the organisations’ activities benefit the community .
The Muslim consumers seek reassurance that any brand offer from an organisation is not just a “marketing ploy”. They want to feel that the brand genuinely understands and empathise with Islamic values in all aspects of their operations. Towards this, communicating transparently and providing a beneficial and meaningful brand experience will enable a brand to reduce and control risk to a great extent in marketing to the Global Muslim Community.
- The Value Benefit of Convergence (benefitpoint.wordpress.com)
- Halal & Shari’ah Compliance.. A Process or A Value? (benefitpoint.wordpress.com)