Expectations are high during the holiday season when we gather with family, friends and co-workers. The more the merrier sounds inviting. Yet, the reality of many people getting together at home or at work can be wrought with difficulty. Whether we’re over-engineering how to deep-fry the turkey or allocating budgets for the new year, joint efforts are not always joyous. Opinions clash, egos bruise, and the conflict- adverse escape with mobile devices in hand. Our stress levels climb.
My late grandmother was impressive in her calm ability to prepare the proverbial feast and engage extended family members in the culinary tasks at hand. Her holiday vision was executed with a collaborative effort despite her crowded kitchen. The output was replete with delicious details like orange cranberry relish, rich oyster stuffing, fresh-whipped cream to top homemade pecan pie. Preparations were finished with ceremoniously-lit tapered candles. By the time we lifted glasses to toast, all had contributed, and all felt welcome at the table.
How do people successfully gather, operate together and benefit from the collective whole? And when does the unspoken burden of traditional, old ways of doing give way to new and better?
Strong organizational culture and commonly held core values are important anchors. Yet clarity of roles, responsibility and a defined workflow system make the romanticized idea of “teams working better together” actionable and attainable. Smart workflow enables people to integrate effectively and produce at a higher level.
Marketing leaders who strive to knit together internal constituents and orchestrate external advertising agency resources will succeed with clearly defined workflow process. Workflow will enable:
- Brand Consistency –Reflected in Quality of Work
- Operational Efficiency – Reflected in Cost Reductions
- Stronger Collaboration/Teaming – Reflected in Executional Excellence
- Innovative Creativity- Reflected in Ideas, Strategy Generated
- Performance Effectiveness – Reflected in ROI
- Accountability- Reflected in Participation, Engagement
- Continuous Improvement- Reflected in Lessons, Optimization and Planning
Our friends in IT apply agile project management practices with great success, setting the stage across the enterprise for appreciation of workflow. Marketers who embrace RACI models can also strengthen their loose marketing processes. Acceptable variations, like fast track projects or longer term commercialization initiatives, will define the agreed upon exceptions and increase overall adoption.
Across multiple advertising and marcom agency partners, a well-designed client-managed workflow system can clarify how, when and with what purpose the roster of agencies can come together to the benefit of the collective. Agencies look to clients to lead in this multi-player model. All can partake in the cornucopia of marketing success.
Permission to Not
Although it may be socially risky to reject Aunt Sarah’s cheddar sausage balls (a death warrant in tasty disguise), the permission to exit obligatory actions is a first critical step to feeling liberated and increasing capacity. In the same way we clean out our closet, we benefit from conducting an inventory of the personal and professional activities that choke our calendars and diminish our creativity.
Identify what doesn’t fit anymore. Let go of outdated processes, standing meetings, even accumulated relationships. Label what is broken and in need of repair. At the risk of being obsolete, bravely cut away all that which is done out of habit. Put back the highest value activity. When we unburden ourselves of old ways of working we are able to embrace new. Allow others to do the same, without serving up a side-dish of guilt to accompany radical change.
Recognize the digital technology revolution places a comprehensive burden on companies and people to reinvent themselves, their business models, their branded products and services and their marketing methods to capitalize upon the sea change underway. It’s hard to embrace this if our plates are full.
For the Love of Family
As for other gatherings, cherish the core values that unite, respect the differences that make each of us unique. Grant others permission to exit old ways in which they come together, making room for new expressions of care.
If chaos in the kitchen threatens your holiday vibe, embrace the work flow as you take your designated seat at the big table.
Good stuff will likely follow.