Do this weekly. Heck daily – if you’re brave enough. Challenge your team to do regular retrospectives.
The biggest #GROWTHHACK I can think of is consistent and regular review of:
– What worked?
– What didn’t?
– What are we going to change?
The best organisations have mastered this rapid iteration and constant velocity of improvement. Taking cues from Ray Dalio’s Principles – the top 1% document their change decisions so that even the way they learn (and make decisions) evolves.
When it’s your socks that need changing most people can sense, assess and respond with appropriate action. But when you’re marching days into the arctic circle, your main issues is survival, not stench. Frostbite, not the fragrance of your socks.
When normal is abnormal and you have multiple inputs you look to group and rationalise so that you can act accordingly. You create routine and discipline to make things simple.
The day ends, socks from everyone in the family go in the wash (grouped in the washing basket), we put new ones on tomorrow (found in our individual drawers).
In fact, I’m grateful that most of us have accepted the standard daily routine and haven’t chosen to optimise or experiment in sock longevity.
How about when things are more complicated?
How do you deal with multi touch attribution in marketing, while the market is in flux? How do you fund your entry to a new market with confidence, while exiting another?How do you work out if something is normal, when you’re doing it for the first time?
Huh, it’s no wonder there’s mixed satisfaction with first times given the varying research, scenarios, and inputs that go into them.
Heck if THAT first time had a stakeholder brief, a pre-meeting meeting, budget analysis, room allocation and a pre-mortem I’m sure billions would have far better memories of their first time. Such is the irony that those who have worked in large corporate multinationals can attest to: you often have far too much planning involving far too many, for events that should be a walk in the park for two.
So standard events and first times we can handle, but what do you do with chaos, disruption, and disorder?
“Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson
Dealing with utter chaos
There’s a framework I was introduced to a couple of years back that builds from the Agile cycle of Launching, Analysing, Learning, and Adjusting. The Cynefin Framework, penned by Dave Snowden almost 20 years ago is the perfect aid for today’s VUCA world.
Simple or Complicated?
When confronted by seeming disorder, in most cases we can: sense, categorise and respond. Some points may require analysis but overall we can form best practice and good practice to deal with most scenarios.
When things are complex we can: probe, sense what’s happening and respond. This works when there is some sort of flow or pattern occurring that we can see happening. Think of putting patches on a leaking boat to see which stops the water coming in.
When there are one hundred holes in your plan, profits leaking everywhere but it’s all going in one direction you can probe, sense which holes are now leaking less, and respond. The patterns are complex, but you can start to move them into some complicated best practice.
When there’s no order, rhyme or reason: act.
Things seem uncontrollable, so act through which you control, sense what happens and respond.
Next, hunt for leverage.
Act. Start creating and pulling levers one by one.
Discover the biggest lever and pull harder.
Turn the chaos into order and set the direction you desire. The art is focusing on the right big levers.
“ You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.” — Marcus Aurelius
From Chaos To Simplicity And Back
The best companies in the world and products, take us from seemed chaos to simplicity.
Spotify use machine learning to take us from a bunch of CDs on the wall to a play list that suits us, our mood, and activity.
Amazon takes the chaotic world of online shopping creating a simple categorised way to hunt for your Christmas gifts.
Apple took a complex digital camera and put it in your phone for in-focus shots from your lock screen. They combined it with a bunch of other things that used to take a backpack to carry, but now fit simply in your hand.
The key for growth being that continual path from chaos to simplicity and ensuring that for your customers: simplicity doesn’t equal boring and repetitive. The most thriving brands and platforms have variety, novelty, and investment. They’re not just simple.
Their simplicity enables complex and chaotic interactions.
You came to Facebook or Instagram for the easy photo uploads and the novelty filters or old friend connections. But you come back because of the variety and unpredictable messages (almost chaos) your connections post. You keep coming back because of the investment you’ve made in data, shared history and connecting with a community.
Anyway, before you jump over to Facebook or Instagram…
Spot the complex, get complicated and dive into chaos!
Oh, and please comment, share or like if you think someone else needs a little chaos in their life.
Almost a year ago I Brought Daniel Flynn’s book Chapter One, the story of Thank You Water to date.
The notion that a small band of university students would ditch their studies and launch a national water brand and go on to sell a range of food, cosmetics and baby care products to Coles and Woolworths – is crazy. For anyone that has been or seen their contacts scarper to get any product into a nation wide FMCG market for years and years, launching a product range in WEEKS, not months or years, is the stuff of legend.
As a Not For Profit giving 100% of their profits to charity Thank You Water are committed to their WHY. Daniel, in a time of doubt received a sign, as he flipped through his bible it opened to a page of giving water to those in need. Since that day he’s doubled down on his WHY.
Together with weekly consulting sessions by his mentor, a billionaire responsible for global creative projects Daniel’s been able to inspire his team to greatness.
Today I heard again Daniel discuss their amazing journey from $1000 seed capital across the three founders to over $5 million dollars of impact to their causes.
Beyond a powerful social impact cause being the backbone of Thank You Water, the second powerhouse to their success has been creativity.
The team’s creativity and their stoic belief that this will work have been the keys to their success.
Here are some of the highlights I took form Daniel’s story around creativity.
Think creatively around funding
The team had $1000 of seed capital and the initial RFP requests had the market suggesting an initial run of their product could cost between $200k and $400k.
Good, they thought.
They went to EVERY supplier until one bucked the norm and agreed to supply their goods in advance.
Think creatively around path to market
Most products start out in farmers markets, growing slowly, bit by bit. They decided that the best way to do things, was to do the opposite. Go large, hit the mid sized retailers first. Sadly, without patents or protection of their ideas, two declined the offer to work with them and promptly created their own charity water brands.
Daniel’s thought was – “Good, is this such a bad thing?” They got creative for their biggest targets Coles and Woolworths. Being agile and learning from the last attempts they went big publicly with their intent.
The massive news coverage ensured that Coles or Woolworths couldn’t run with their own brands and ultimately led to both brands taking on their food range as well as their water.
They had a full product range hit the shelves in record times (weeks) and their products hit spots one and two across Australia.
Get creative with pricing
Thank You water was building through the network of contacts the founders were building. They knew that this would be the engine for them to expand, not just through sales deals with these lead retailers.
Daniel always jokes that bottled water is a silly product that people pay silly money for. With that idea in mind and after some deep reflection Daniel wrote a book called Chapter One – priced using a Pay what you want model.
They managed to convince the Airports in New Zealand and Auckland to stock their book on a month by month basis through the power of their social media networks and the PR they promised would ensue. It did. The book sold out in the first weeks in many locations. It was the top of the business category and to date has had prices ranging from 15 cents to $5000 a copy.
The book has raised $1.7 million dollars and counting, selling in Australia and NZ airports in a year and has funded the launch of their baby care products and explorations into New Zealand. In the airport bookshops it was second only to Harry Potter launch week and the book store directors gave them the annual innovation award for their product launch.
Get creative with leadership
One of Daniel’s final points was to get your ideas out there. Too often we hide our ideas until we feel they’re worth sharing. He suggested, or maybe this is my interpretation, that we underestimate the value of the efforts our team members, colleagues and connections can make in nurturing our ideas and bringing them to fruition.
“Bring it to the market, to the community and get it heard.” Sharing your idea will create LEVERAGE – the more people that know your journey and the ideas you have, the more they can bind to your WHY and generate momentum.
He’s certainly got me thinking around creativity and challenging what we consider to be unmovable paths, truths or conventions…
The tasks, skills and abilities required of the modern digital marketing manager, online manager or webmaster are broad. T shaped skills sets are squared off and it is the same for any marketer – on or offline. The influence of technology everywhere means speaking tech and having EQ is the equation for success.
We are required not only to have a technical understanding, but also the skills to wrangle: tech upgrades, shiny new social networks, integrations, content, user experiences and the teams or relationships involved in creating them.
That said, the most powerful approach/skill/technique that a Website Marketing Manager can take is that of being a forerunner for: his leaders, his team and his customers.
They’re the forerunner and Product Owner for their tools – the website, social media and online channels
As the forerunner for an organisation’s online presence the Website Marketing Manager champions best practice. By ensuring the overall consistency of look and feel, that image selection and copy reflects the tone of voice and brand guidelines of the organisation the manager creates harmony. An experience for the user that is consistent throughout the website, across social media platforms and through the various mediums of copy, image, video and interactive.
They understand that a post with an image is more credible, they understand heuristics like scarcity, anchoring and abundance, but most of all they craft a better online experience.
A forerunner respects rules and regulations, but also appreciates that a new audience or network will respond better to content designed for them. Ancient forerunners learnt the languages, dialects, customs and body language that appeased their new audiences, carving a path for their leader. They master the technology and tool available but also know how to hammer in a nail with a variety of tools and quickly repurpose.
The forerunner not only tailors but they develop and implement an overall content strategy into which they meld the requirements of various stakeholders. All whilst addressing the needs of their buyer personas (the target audiences of their organisation).
They’re the forerunner for customers online
First and foremost the forerunner is customer centric.
The forerunner rolls up their sleeves for the customer ensuring they find resolution for their pain points with products and services, or information and content, should their needs be met elsewhere. They ensure the experience is as painless as possible.
They understand the various customer journeys that buyer personas take, they optimise sales funnels on the site to maximise conversion rates and they do so to ultimately please the customer.
They’re the forerunner for their team
A forerunner likes to roll up their sleeves. In posting content, status updates and A/B testing the forerunner keeps tabs on the user experience for internal customers too. Those that have to deal with cumbersome workflows, ageing tools or inefficient processes. The manager spots things like:
the pairing, deleting or formatting of tags
and workflow inefficiencies.
They keep a backlog of process and system improvement to implement that will streamline publication processes and minimise risk.
The forerunner creates a scaffold for his team to work autonomously towards well communicated joint goals.
They’re the forerunner for their leaders and peers
Forerunners are ahead explaining complex scenarios in a dialect the audience can understand and they manage stakeholders needs. Be that senior management, HR with careers branding, or legal with compliance. They communicate efficiently with each.
Like a good auctioneer the website forerunner has his eye across the digital room remembering all parties, their bids and their interests. With an eye on all facets of technical and content needs, prioritised backlogs are built of:
content types, their audience, trends and seasonality
The forerunner has contacts in all camps and bridges sales, marketing and IT to meld the an optimum website within technical and budgetary restraints.
They’re the forerunner for the future
Through constant research – the forerunner has a backlog of potential new ideas for the site, social media and all digital touchpoints. The forerunner is a connector not only of people but also ideas through loose ties. Leveraging industry but also global and hyper local trends as they fit with the goals of the company, the forerunner proactively shares ideas to guide their leader.
As the champion of his website the forerunner isn’t afraid to challenges roadblocks and those deviating from what is currently considered best practice. He has the brand standards, site standards, usability and overall site design at the forefront of any decision.
The forerunner has become an expert at iterative decisions. Taking big decisions and testing them with MVPs. Trialing on a low risk asset or A/B testing to integrate new features or content.
Constantly improving. Continuous beta.
This post is prompted by a recent Tim Ferriss podcast on the canvas strategy and a quote: “The person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting.” – Ryan Holiday.