Book – Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

multipliersVery insightful book – at almost every point, you can not stop from thinking:  “ah, yes, I had this type of a manager one time…”

The main idea of the book is the difference between different managers in influence on their team and productivity of the team.  Multipliers encourage people to give more than 100% of their abilities (stretch the abilities) to the project.  Diminishers discourage participation and people routinely report that they contribute to the company 50%-70% of what they could contribute.

summaryIn some organizations, autocratic managers is the norm, but the recommendation to those people in the book is “to be a better manager than your boss.”  The boss may not care, but the organization will benefit tremendously from the multiplier approach.

What is possible if you can access all of the intelligence in your organization? By extracting people’s full capability, Multipliers get twice the capacity from them.

Liz Wiseman

What multipliers do differently compared to diminishers?

  • They attract and optimize talent
  • They require people’s best thinking
  • They extend challenges
  • They debate decisions
  • They instill accountability

Which will you be: A genius? Or a genius maker? Your choice matters.

Liz Wiseman

MIMA – Content Strategy 2015: Marketing, Mobile and the Enterprise

kristinaSold-out event where local marketing community met, chatted, and snacked on some lovely food 😉

Usual distinction of content marketing vs. content strategy was discussed from different angles.  Thinking after the event…  would’t content strategy be part of general marketing strategy?  As, theoretically, it could be a strategic marketing decision not to engage into content marketing as any other channel…

strategy

marketing

One of the interesting points is feeling of urgency on the b-to-b side, and particularly enterprise level, in the area of content.  From another side, Kristina pointed out that CMOs with millions spent on content marketing can not always define the measurement and objective of the activity…

marketers

Hmmm…  we may not know why we are working on the content, but we definitely do it as an industry.  Ah. Kristina has a good advice:

2015

Content strategy for mobile…  The presentation suggested that the content should be accessible on any device.  I doubt it…  As we do not need all home amenities in our car, do we need all desktop site “amenities” in our tiny phone?

Lovely, very entertaining presentation!  I loved to hear that many marketers are struggling just as the rest of us to make sense of it all and find some happy place between what we could do and what we should do… 🙂

Mobile Twin Cities – Smart Retail with Myriad Mobile

MyriadMobile.As usually, quite eye-opening event, which opened my eyes on the part of marketing that have not been a focus of my attention.  Interesting points:

tacoTaco Johns used a mobile app to promote a new product.  Interesting point of the case study – the highlight of the app is to get points redeemable for free food 🙂  The app was successful to attract thousands of participants, though the case study does not indicate how successful the product lunch itself was.  The app definitely encouraged people to try the new food item.

AvabarAvabar and Myriad Mobile are working on a social bar app, which would allow bar visitors to get deals for items they can purchase at a bar.  The app will integrate with social networks and will be “bar-independent” – it will be useable in any bar and will provide a clear benefit (a discount) for its user.

Particularly interesting – the app is technically a consumer discount tool on the surface, designed to provide vendors with useful information on consumption patterns and deal value effect.

Retailers are experimenting with iBeacon – a technology that allows to provide specific information to a mobile device based on proximity.  The device owner would have to download a dedicated app from this particular retailer to receive the communications.  (However, this approach might find a practical application for all apps that downloaded once and never uses 😉  The technology will probably be truly beneficial when only one basic app need to be uploaded for all major retail vendors to provide somewhat consistent benefit to the shopper.)

estimoteEstimote is one of major suppliers of iBeacons.  The technology is currently in search of a major problem to solve 😉

ibeakonThe most interesting insight from the event is the perception of retail.  Retail is not about purchasing and picking up “things,” but about the experience in the store.  This makes total sense.

 

Book – Content Strategy for the Web

Content-strategyVery insightful book…  ah, I should not have waited until second edition to read it, as the book even more useful than I though it would be.

My main insight is the need to differentiate between content strategy and content marketing, as it is often confused.  Content strategy is a thoughtful approach to company’s content; while content marketing is one of marketing tactics.  It is entirely possible to have an excellent content strategy that would do nothing for marketing, and run a robust content marketing effort in parallel with a rather sorry state of other content…

Content strategy guides your plans for the creation, delivery and governance of the content.

Some of the points from the book:

  • Content needs to have an owner (and it is not the person who publishes content on the web site)
  • Content is often treated as a commodity by the organizations, but it requires knowledge and skill to produce. Or – to produce reasonably well.  Creating content right requires more planning than producing a brochure.
  • Creating content might be a good tactic, but it should not be done just because you can…
  • Content strategy consists of core strategy. content components (substance and structure), and people components (workflow and governance)

content

  • Content strategist:
    • Is the advocate for the content throughout the organization
    • Provides background research and analysis that stakeholders need to make smart decisions about content
    • Creates recommendations for the content based on business and user needs
    • Works with the organization to implement the content online
  • The authors of the book discovered that if project sponsors are collaborating on the content project with different parties, the project is much more likely to be successful comparing to the situation when the project is kept under wraps.

Don’t audit and analyze your competitors’ websites with the idea that you need to keep up.  consider instead where you can create true competitive advantage.  Nine times out of ten, this simply means optimizing you current content (in quality and structure), fixing your site search, and making smart, strategic decisions about what new content you will add to the site – why, when, how, for whom, by who, and so on.

Example of core strategy statement

core-strategy

  • Authors suggest that detail personas are not needed for content creation – they can be distracting.  “…a bulleted list of basic user attributes can work just as well.”
  • Need for an editorial oversight – even if you buy or licence ready-made content
  • Authors observed that organizations might commit to an amount of content they simply can’t sustain.  They launch websites with unfinished or sub-par content no one really had time to generate in the first place, let alone pay attention to once it went live.  The solution is prioritization.
  • New content needs to be created for new channels:  “For years now, organizations have been trying to retrofit their print content and digital documents into a web-based format…  Just as the old document model broke down when the web arrived, the web page model is going to break down in the years to come, as we confront a future of multiple devices and platforms.”
  • Agency process change from discovery > information architecture > design > templates > development to content strategy > information architecture > web writing >content production > design > templates > development

Excellent book – an fantastic reference material – highly recommend.

Book – Change to Strange

change-to-strangeVery insightful approach to a human resources strategy and metrics.  Human resources are considered part of business strategy (what makes complete sense), which should play important part in company differentiation and managed as a part of overall business strategy.

Human resources can be a strategic advantage, and to achieve it, the company needs to hire “strange” people, who may not be valued by competition and not to worry is “standard” people would leave the company to the competition because of change in company’s strategy.

One of the examples is a wealth management company that is trying to concentrate on higher net worth individuals than before.  Some of its employees may not be comfortable with it and could leave, what is completely fine from the company’s perspective.  The company has a new strategy (what is a choice and a risk as any strategy), and now it needs “strange” workforce to support it.

  1. Determine your desired outcomes first (overall business strategy)
  2. Define metrics that are most appropriate to evaluate your success (if satisfied customers are the objective, metrics of keeping calls as short as possible in the call center may not be the best metric)
  3. Define what workforce behaviors can contribute to the success
  4. Hire people who share particular characteristic (or train, etc.) and don’t worry if others will leave to the competition
  5. Strange workforce architecture – build the entire architecture around needed qualities; the architecture might be different for different type of jobs

It is a pleasure to encounter a book after book after book that emphasize general business strategy as the basis for other business decisions – customer experience, workforce, etc.

Book – Scaling Up

scaling-upAs a person who typically works for large organizations, I am skeptical that books directed to entrepreneurs and medium sized companies can be helpful for us, corporate dwellers.  This book, however, has an excellent advice that can be useful for “scaling up” a team, a department, or just understand better whet can be improved here and now.

The book has a wealth of additional resources with tempting titles and the company site provides quite a few useful materials.

The book has four parts – people, strategy, execution, and cash.  Though all of them intertwined, they are excellent component for a business unit of any size (reminder of understanding of financial state of the business is always useful for any organization).

chaptersA few interesting notes:

Company as a whole can become weak in the strength area of its leader.  This is clear in the small-medium companies, but can be probably true for a department of a large organization.  The leader can be either too involved in the area of his/her expertise and when other demands take priority, the company suffers.  Or, the leader hires more junior people than needed, considering that his/her own expertise will compensate for the gap.

Growth companies typically under-invest in marketing 🙂

Hiring mistakes can cost the company up to 15 times of annual pay of the employee.

It is important to match employees personal values with the values of the company.  The retention will increase and the employee satisfaction will also increase.

It is better to hire less people but to pay them more.  In this situation the company will have a choice of candidates needed to make better hiring decisions.  It is particularly important for the front-line staff.  Companies that pay more to heir front-line employees and provide more training to them are more successful.

Creative approaches to hiring right people: one of garbage collection company in Ireland targeted young unemployed men interested in fitness.  The company promoted the job in fitness centers as an activity where strong men are betting paid for their daily workout.

Meetings: the authors are in favor of a very short daily meeting.  Average employee will have one short daily meeting and average manager two (with the team and as a member of the management team).  The objectives of the meeting to solve problems – now.

I also think my understanding of cash flow increased…  and my future reading list quadrupled 🙂