What is Situational Leadership


Leaders need to adapt they management style to fit the performance readiness of their teams.

Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard created the concept of situational leadership in the field of organisational behaviour.

They said that “readiness” not only varies by person, but also by task. People have different levels of ability and motivation for different tasks. Leaders can choose from directing, coaching, supporting and delegating depending on the situation and team member:

Situational_leadership

Directing

This style is recommended for team members that require a lot of specific guidance to complete the task. The leader could say: “Gerard this is what I would like you to do, here you have a step by step approach and here is when I need it done.” It’s primarily a command and control approach, one way conversation with little or no input from the team member.

Coaching

This is style is for team members who need guidance to complete the task, but there is a two-way conversation, the team member gives input. Coaching is for people who want and need to learn. The leader could say: “Gerard this is what I would like you to do, here you have a step by step approach and here is when I need it done. What do you think?”. Although the leader still set the approach, the team member is invited to give input and ultimately workout any change in the delivery plan if the leader and the team member think it will benefit the project.

Supporting

This style is for team members that have the skills to complete the task but may lack confidence to do it on their own. The leader could say: “Gerard, here is the task I need you to do and here is when I need this done. How do you think it should be done?, let’s talk about it, how can I help you on this one?. The leader knows the team member can achieve the task but s/he needs support to remove any impediment.

Delegating

This style es for team members who are motivated, have the ability to complete the task and have confidence. They know what to do, how to do it and can do it on their own. The leader could say: “Gerard, here is the task I need you to do and here is when I need this done. If I can help just ask, if not you are on your own.” Although is highly recommended to schedule health checks, the leader is confident the team member will complete the task based on his/her track record.

One style is not better than the other, each style is appropriate to the situation. Effective leaders know who is on their team, who can be left alone and who needs more direction.

Customer Experience Having the Customer at the Center of Your Business


Customer experience (also known as CX) is the single greatest predictor of whether customers will return or defect to a competitor to do business.

Customer Experience

What is customer experience? 

It is how your customers perceive their interactions with your organisation and how well the interaction:

  • helped them achieve their goals
  • how much effort they had to invest in the interaction
  • how much they enjoyed the interaction

Benefits of customer experience:

  • It is source of both decreased costs and increased revenue, for instance by having leaner and more efficient processes that affect customers (both external and internal) and by increasing recurring revenue
  • It correlates to loyalty

Customer experience and the business ecosystem:

Customer experience is not a program or a way to increase revenues, it is a lot more than that and it clearly reflects in every single functional department. Organisations need to create a customer experience that best aligns with the corporate vision the executive team has put envisage, the company’s target market, value proposition, unique strengths, financial objectives, and core values.

Customer Experience is “journey, not a project. It has a beginning but it doesn’t have an end

The company’s corporate objectives and brand attributes are the foundation of any customer experience strategy.

If you want to embark in this journey, you need to start with a complete picture of your clients, who they are and what they want from you.

6 Steps to Implement a Customer Experience Program:

  1. internalise the fact that you need your customers more than they need you
  2. examine the reason why your company exists in the first place
  3. spend time learning what it feels like to be your customer
  4. talk to your customers
  5. talk to your frontline employees
  6. try mapping a customer experience ecosystem for one of your company’s most important customer journeys

5 Steps to do a Customer Experience Mapping:

  1. pick an important target customer and think of a problematic journey for that customer
  2. write down the series of actions that the customer takes as part of that problematic journey
  3. write down all the people and groups that your customer interacts with at each step
  4. draw a horizontal line across the middle, below the notes you’ve placed on it so far. This is the “line of visibility.” Everything you’re about to put below the line is completely invisible to your customer
  5. put green dots on each part of your ecosystem that is working well from the perspective of the person who was touching it. Tag and define parts of the ecosystem that are making people unhappy with yellow dots, and parts of the ecosystem that are making people very unhappy with red dots

Rolling out the Customer Experience program

Systematically:

  • Measure customer experience
  • Identify the drivers of customer experience quality
  • Correlates customer experience quality with business results
  • Shares findings across the enterprise

You cannot afford to ignore the measurement discipline unless you want your efforts to run out of gas and die.

It drives interest in your programs by demonstrating results, and keeps people on track by connecting them to hard data about the effectiveness of what they’re doing.

Read more: Harley Manning, Kerry Bodine. Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business“. Amazon Publishing.

Strategy and Customer Understanding


Your customer experience must support your corporate strategy. You need to work and focus on defining the customer experience that best aligns with:

  1. corporate vision,
  2. target market
  3. value proposition, your products & services
  4. unique strengths (competitive advantage)
  5. financial objectives
  6. core values

Be aware that the wrong customer experience would confuse your customers and send them to a competitor.

In addition to the strategy alignment, your customer experience must align with your brand attributes, you need to guide the activities and decision-making of employees at every level of your organisation, so that they can deliver on your company’s brand promises.

Companies need to understand and get a complete picture of what their customers really need, want and aspire.

Practices to understand client needs:

  1. mining unsolicited customer feedback, customers constantly provide unsolicited feedback about their experiences via emails, call, chats, social media, etc.
  2. conducting ethnographic research, this is simply observing your customer’s behaviour in a natural setting
  3. gathering input from employees, each of frontline employees interact with dozen or hundreds of individual customers and routinely witnesses with good and bad customer experiences.
  4. companies can create “Voice of the employees programs

As an example of a low tech approach, you can place whiteboards in prominent locations for employees to share ideas for improving the customer experience and track ideas from submission to implementation.

Thinking you know what customers want is risky. Most companies neglect to build a foundation of customer understanding before they develop products, services and experiences strategies, and then proceed with costly initiatives.

Employees and managers very often fall into the trap of assuming that what they want is what customers want.

To avoid this trap, you can:

  1. use personas to document who your customers are. Unlike market segmentations, which typically remain nameless and faceless, personas come to life with names, photos and vivid narratives that describe real life scenarios.
  2. once you have developed your personas, you create journey maps that visually illustrate a particular persona’s activities over time. You can plot the entire course of a customer’s relationship with a company or zoom in to just one particular part of the journey

But remember, you end goal is not the personas and journey maps themselves, your end goal is deep customer insights.

Once you complete this part, share your customer insight early and often, use all channels available and meet regularly with employees and business functions for all the company to be in the same page.

Read more: Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business by Harley Manning, Kerry Bodine and Josh Bernoff. Forrester Research.

Google Analytics to Optimise Landing Pages


This video from Google Analytics explains the importance to know your customers and create an experience that matches their needs. The more you know your market the better solutions you give.

Analytics help to improve the online customer experience, by indicating how users find your site, navigate and from where they leave. Also it gives data of preferred content offering and where this can be displayed for better results.

The following video is a metaphor that shows frictions that customers face while interacting with a site (e.g. buying products). Effective Landing pages are key to improve conversions and generate ROI for marketing campaigns

What is the Difference Between Mission and Vision?


Everyone has been in long meetings polishing and negotiating missions and visions, the result very often is utterly generic (just change the name of the company and the result is the same) with a total lack of passion and of no real value to anyone.

The mission and vision have to be simple, relatively comprehensive and with passion.

The mission is a statement of your reason of being, why you exist for and why it matters. In the context of digital marketing, you define what it is you do online and why, what customers problems you are solving “at a profit” and how your online activities will add value. To facilitate the understanding of the mission, think of it through the eyes of your customers.

The vision is not a set of goals, it is not a fantasy wishful thinking, it is a clear, specific model of what it is you tend to build. Simply, the vision is a description of what the business looks like at a specific time in the future. In the context of digital marketing, the best is to elaborate 2 visions one for 18 months and one for 3 years away. Talk about things that matter most, how will you interact with your customers and what they will think of you and your competitors.

But remember:

If you are unable to articulate what your desired future looks like, then how can anyone else contribute to achieving it?

Digital Marketing Best Practices


The following rules can apply no matter the size, budget or scale your digital strategy may be.

  • Do not start if you don’t have a clear strategy

I have seen too many companies waste money by embarking on poorly conceived initiatives, they always want to see the “tree” without understanding the “forest”. So the advise here is resist the urgency to leap into action until you have a clear strategy. To establish a strategy you can read 7 steps to create your business strategy.

  • Be customer centric

View everything you do through the eyes of your customers. Marketing is all about solving people’s problem at a profit. Regard usability as non-negotiable characteristic of the design of your user experience.

  • Don’t radically change or eradicate  your old marketing approach 

Start with the initiatives that let you achieve your business goals, learn from them. Introduce new approaches in parallel with your existing programmes. The digital revolution is not in the tools, but in the processes that they improve.

  • Do not let technology dictate your marketing strategy

I have seen a couple of marketing managers to abdicate decision-making to the IT team, particularly because they feel a bit unsure of their own technical expertise. The capabilities of the technology should not be allowed to define the customer processes or limit the functionality. The technical solution must be defined by business and marketing objectives and not the other way around.

  •  Match your customers’ preferred way of interacting with you

If you want to be customer centric, you need to find out how your customers would like to interact with you and structure your process accordingly. To map this out you can use buyer personas to define the best way to interact with each of the segments you are reaching.

  • Do not treat your digital strategy like one-time investment

If you do not budget your main digital channel (e.g. website, media portal, e-commerce portal) and its associated marketing as an ongoing investment, you might as well not considering digital as part of your business strategy.

  • Use project management

No matter how small the project is, it is essential to use the disciplines, methodologies and tools of project management to ensure that it comes on time, within budget and the quality required. Project management, help you to quantify the implications of proposed changes and to make informed decisions.

dibert-on-marketing

Business Tips From 37signals


Jason Fried is the Co-Founder and President of 37signals, a Chicago company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary.

37signals manifesto, as they say “It’s a collection of 37 nuggets of online philosophy and design wisdom. It’s a great introduction to the 37signals’ school of thought and a fun, quick read to boot.”

The book I read first was get it real and you can read it online and I strongly recommend it. This book really goes to the point and touches plenty of decisions that a business must face, even if it’s a large corporation or a small web factory.

My top posts are:

  1. build less
  2. fix time and budget, flex on scope
  3. lower your cost of change
  4. ignore details early on
  5. start with no
  6. hidden costs (new feature process)
  7. from idea to implementation (web app)
  8. epicenter design
  9. Hollywood launch
  10. promote through education

And if you really like this approach, you have to see this video from Jason, where he explains the following:

  1. Venture capitalists rents you time
  2. By pricing you will get great feedback
  3. Innovations come and go, stay focus on usefulness
  4. Focus on what won’t change, things that will pay off today and tomorrow
  5. DIY you have to do it yourself in order to hire or ask someone else to do it
  6. Apologise properly
  7. Nail the basics, that’s the real stuff
  8. Less is more, but make the few things you do really well

Content Marketing in Few Lines


  1. The content is more important than the offer
  2. A customer relationship doesn’t end with the payment
  3. Interruption isn’t valued, but engagement is
  4. A blog can be, and should be, a core part of communicating with and marketing to your customers
  5. Focusing on what the customer wants is more important than what you have to sell
  6. A news release isn’t meant to be picked up by the press, but rather to help customers find your great content on the web
  7. Communicating directly with customers is the best choice
  8. Marketers can and should be publishers
  9. Without content, community is improbable, if not impossible
  10. Lead generation is only one small part of the marketing picture
  11. The long tail of search engine optimisation is driven by consistent content on your corporate blog or website
  12. Buyers are in control, the traditional sales process has changed, and relevant content lets organisations into the buying process
  13. Long-form branded content can be created anywhere your customers work, live, or play
  14. There is no one right way to do content marketing. Be willing to experiment
  15. In-person events continue to be one of the best ways to connect with your audience
  16. Never overlook the power of simplicity
  17. Don’t rely too much on Google to bring traffic to your site

Digital Product Management


Almost every new service Google launches is a beta, a test, an experiment, a work in progress. Why? because launching and getting data from the market is the best way to improve a product.

Of course, the market can find errors, but companies must be pleased to get help to find those errors, for the company to fix them and improve the product.

The key on digital product management is iterations. When you launch a product, iteration with a well-defined audience is the best way to learn about the mistakes you made. The internet makes iteration and development on the fly possible.

The objective is to get the product out and then have the users to tell you where it is more important to spend your time.

Marissa Mayer, says “We make mistakes every time, every day. But if you launch things and iterate really quickly, people forget about those mistakes and have a lot of respect for how quickly your build your product up and make it better”.

Sheryl Sandberg, made an error while working at Google that cost millions, so she apologised to Larry Page who responded: “I’m so glad you made this mistake, because I want to run a company where we are moving too quickly and doing too much, not being too cautious and doing too little. If we don’t have any of these mistakes, we are just not taking enough risk”.

Dilbert Product Management

10 Design Principles


Companies must understand that design is not simply an adjective to place in front of a product’s name to somehow artificially enhance its value. Design is a serious profession.

Dieter Rams is a reference for design, within the 40 years of working at Braun, Rams produced and oversaw over 500 innovative products as chief of design. Many of his designs are featured in museums throughout the world.

Rams lays down 10 key points, clearly stating what makes a good design. This information is a timeless source of inspiration that most any designer can appreciate.

Good design is:

Innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

Makes a Product Useful: A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

Aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Makes A Product Understandable: It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

Unobtrusive: Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

Honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept

Long-lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

Thorough Down to the Last Detail: Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

Environmentally Friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

As Little Design as Possible: Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Apple design boss Jon Ive, talking about simplicity and design said: “It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity”.