Sunday, January 09, 2005

Internal Change: Taking the Beachhead

Moving from Push Marketing to Contextual Marketing

Inserting a new marketing and sales process like contextual marketing will cause fundamental change in how work gets done. Normally such change cannot happen unless the CEO, the CMO and the CSO want it to happen, but sometimes even they cannot seem to make fundamental change happen. The need for change must be sufficiently threatening or the opportunity so great that there is no other choice than to change how things get done. Even then, some will fear for their jobs or at the very least be reluctant to change and some will truly believe the new process is flawed.

Organize for the change.

The change champion has the task of setting the new vision and assembles three teams to get the vision moving. The teams should have representation from senior management, sales, marketing and operations so that there begins a top-down and eventually a bottom-up approach to the process that leads to ownership by everyone involved. There tends to be a fair amount of finger pointing and “you can’t do that here” at this stage, but by assembling all the business concerns and then shedding blame, positive movement forward can begin.

Identify the web of leaders and followers who will take the organization on the journey toward a new organization.

The Organizational Meeting

The change champion convenes an Organizational Meeting of all who will be involved on the various teams. Lay out the entire change process and how each team works with the others and how members of each team work with one another. Establish work rules for handling conflict. Set up internal communications procedures so everyone is aware of what he or she needs to know to get the work done.

The Commitment Workshop

A facilitator leads the first set of meetings of the Leadership Team. There are typically many agendas going on in a team of power brokers. These agendas must be parked at the door for the good of the whole. This is not an easy task for aggressive managers each looking for the leverage to move ahead on the corporate ladder. The facilitator can take the heat for pushing for consensus and for disarming dissenters by assuming liability for creating the tension. In my experience as a facilitator of such meetings, this is hard work. The facilitator cannot allow team members to appear to have agreed to change, only to leave the room and subvert it. Each person’s point of view must be managed as the group moves toward consensus.

The facilitator leads this team into an overall vision statement … here’s where we are headed. What does the end state look like? What are the precise measurable objectives, the milestone events, the perceived barriers, the resources?

Now the really hard work begins.

Look for small victories and promote them. Look for barriers and knock them down.


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