Monday, March 10, 2014

CULTURE - The Heart of Growth

In the famous words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for lunch, every time.” Yes, of course, strategy is important to win in this highly complex, ever changing, unpredictable market place.  For many CEOs, however, strategy is not just an important thing, it’s the ONLY thing.  Their primary focus is a business strategy, smartly derived from intricate algorithms and profound fact based analysis, that will (hopefully) lead to the promised land of double-digit growth, higher valuations and sumptuous margins. Sound familiar?

At RWG, we believe there is another critical, and elastic, aspect of the success equation. An often forgotten “X Factor” and the most unpredictable variable in the formula: The PEOPLE.  The talented individuals in your company who will, if inspired, delight and surprise you.  Think for a moment and be honest with yourself. In your company, is there enough emphasis placed on creating a culture that encourages people to conceive and germinate the ideas that will delight your customer, consumer or client?  Are your people inspired to think big and contribute greatness, even if no one is specifically assigning them the “task” of doing so?

All too often our enterprises are filled with unengaged, unfulfilled humankind where no great strategy, no matter how well envisioned, can take root.

We argue that the Strategy + Culture equation is unbalanced in many companies and needs an adjustment. The path to success should rely less on the minds of analysts and number crunchers and more on the hearts of the employees who are the everyday drum beat of the future. The heart must be nurtured, its spirit cultivated. It must be handled and finessed with the same care and energy given to the creation of your great strategy.  This is not soft talk here. This is hard fact. A company that creates and encourages an innovative culture that unleashes the creative spirit, enables risk taking, and supports career development will be a ripe environment for those smart strategies to take hold.

The evidence is there. Look at Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.” Is the emphasis on a strategic plan or is the emphasis on talent cultivation? Consider Southwest Airlines, the most consistently profitable airline on the planet. Where is the emphasis?  They get it. If you take care of your people, the profits will follow. And guess what?  You will attract the best and brightest to join you. It’s a virtuous circle.

Next time you sit down to generate the next big strategic vision, start with the right equation. Think about the culture and environment you are accountable for. Take your head out of the numbers for a moment and listen to the hearts of the people. Are they ready, willing and inspired to climb that strategic mountain with you? Do they understand where you are taking them, and do they have a voice in the direction? Have they been unleashed to help take your ideas to even higher levels? Do they BELIEVE they work for a great company that can do great things?  Put your heart into it…and think about it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Women Matter. Well, duh!

            McKinsey & Company conducted a study in Europe a few years back entitled, “Women Matter:  Gender Diversity, A Corporate Performance Driver.”  Two things jumped out when we read this study.  First, companies with the highest representation of women at board and top management levels also were the companies that performed best—financially.

Second, the study goes beyond the important but limited solutions usually offered up for getting more women into senior positions, namely better work-life balance.  It also argues for the value of policies and programs that help women master what the authors call the “dominant (read: male) code” of business and nurture their ambition.

            Whatever you think about the why women are under-represented in the top echelons of business, having them there is clearly important to the success of the enterprise.  And that doesn’t surprise us at all, since our mantra is “Strategy is Human.”  Beyond numbers, data, key indicators, and so on, what really drives a business is the people behind it—their dreams, hopes, perspectives, emotions, priorities, and so on.  It stands to reason that the most successful organizations would be the ones that benefit from the broadest and deepest range of human perspectives, and that is only possible when your management ranks draw from the broadest and deepest pool of people. 

            Woman matter—yes.  Because human beings—of all sizes, shapes, colors, ethnicities, persuasions and yes, gender—matter. 

Sue Matson

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pinterest - shifting from verbal to visual

This is where the RWG strategists will post about things that inspire us. For example, one experience I'm really into right now is Pinterest - a social media outlet where people can create virtual pin boards of interesting things they come across on the web. I use it in several ways e.g., to create menu boards for parties, to capture beautiful images from the world of design and typography, and to keep a record of places I've been. I also browse it regularly for images that spark new ideas.

To me, Pinterest is the anti-Facebook. It is visual over verbal.  There is no "Farmville," there are no posts from people whining about their commute or sharing what they ate for lunch, and you don't get "Friended" by someone you might have known in high school but don't remember and definitely haven't seen or thought about for 30 years. I have grown weary of this obsessive over-sharing.

On Pinterest people follow you based on their interest in the images you post. They don't know the intimate details of your life and you don't get subjected to theirs. I love it because it's visually stimulating and a goldmine of ideas on a myriad of subjects from food, travel, art, architecture, sports, design and so much more.

Here are some of my boards:

Pinterest could be a big opportunity for marketers to connect with consumers in an authentic, organic way. Brands or products can be "discovered" based on the interests of the Pinterest user and then those users become advocates for your brand by "repinning" your content. However, users' BS meters are set on high alert and marketers must strive to be well integrated into the Pinterest aesthetic, not merely try to capitalize on the latest social media trend.

Here's a succinct and useful article with tips for how brands can play on Pinterest:

Amy Sundermann, Senior Strategist