Many articles and books have been written about how helpful, asking the “Why?” question multiple times in finding the root cause is. My recent experiences have learned me that asking the “How?” question is just as useful in finding the underlying solution and/or reasoning for a certain outcome. Just think of a situation where people in a presentation promise you great results, with nice graphs and statements. Start asking the question “How?” The ones that can continue to answer this question until he/she reaches a really convincing point, has an well underpinned story, but many will fail to convince you during the questioning.
Just imagine you are sitting in a meeting where a team presents with a lot of enthusiasm that they are going to grow your turnover with >10%. Many people in the room like the story and presentation, giving their quiet support, until somebody ask the question: “How?”. The first time the team answers this question, the answer may come very easy and already be in the presentation, e.g. sell more products to certain target group. When on this answer again the question “How?” follows, they have to go already a bit deeper and start talking about certain marketing or sales force improvement actions. If then the question “How?” is posted again at a certain point you come to the real discussion if what is underpinning is sound to reach the result presented in the end.
This does not only work for analyzing business plans and presentations. I am pretty sure that guys at e.g. Toyota are not only asking themselves the question many times on “Why?”they have this brake problem, but that there are many now also concerned about “How?” to improve the public opinion in managing this problem. Again her the first time you answer this question is might seem very obvious, e.g. by improving the communication, but with every time you continue to answer this question, you come one level deeper to concrete solutions. How do we improve the communication, e.g. by: involving media companies that are able to handle such delicate messaging, having a clear communication message & action plan, …
Each of these results you can than further break down by asking “How?”until you reach a level where you think you are concrete enough.
This all might sound very simple, but that is in the end also the power of “How”
Please let me know if you have good examples yourself of this and if you liked this blog, either here and/or if you are interested to learn and discuss more about Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, please join our Forum at http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1899487
I must be honest; I have been many years in Strategy functions and until recently I have never considered ERP solutions as part of the strategic considerations. Strategy was in my view, about coming up with better product & service solutions for consumers & customer and outsmarting your competition in the market, but we never considered the role and the importance of information systems in this. I saw all these billboards on airports and other public places with “The best run businesses run SAP”, but I would think “so what”, we do as well. This changed quite fundamentally for me over the past few months.
We all know that the availability of information drives decisions. Therefore it goes without saying that having good information (systems) is crucial for good decision making. This is valid for all processes in the organization, not only Strategy. The strategic element I would like to zoom in on here is the setup of the ERP system and the organisation. When all information is gathered around the axis of Business Units, we will make decisions to optimize the performance of the Business Units. If we would have the same transparency of information across other dimensions, e.g. per market, customer, project,… than decisions also could take better into account the impact of these axis.
To give you an example, in a certain business serving a certain group of customers may be not very profitable, but it might be a highly profitable segment for other business. The businesses could leverage each other, making the less interesting business more cost effective/profitable and also being able to offer the services from another business could possibly increase the chances in the overall bid for projects.
Having a more holistic view on the business will enrich the decision making as well as the identification of opportunities for growth.
This also has impact on the way we can structure and control our organization, as I have tried to address in my previous blog post on multidimensional organization. When we try to describe/setup such an organization it is important that we clearly describe the processes and currently there is no area where process descriptions are done with clear checks of interfaces and interrelations as in the IT environment. Arguably IT backbones are more and more becoming the area where the best descriptions can be found on how the organization effectively works. Therefore, if we want to make structural/strategic changes to your organization, the area of ERP systems should be taken as an important enabler of change.
Last but not least; ERP/IT costs are a significant driver for (reducing) costs, especially for large companies. Cost of organization can be reduced by further automation, ERP/IT costs can be reduced by combining in shared service centers and outsourcing, effectiveness can be increased by standardization & simplification. All these elements will help the organization to be more effective and cost competitive, hence gain competitive advantage.
Although ERP systems have been in many cases a very internal oriented discussion topic, they have far reaching impact on how we can drive our strategy, make decisions, structure the organization and drive competitive advantage.
Let me know if you recognize the above and /or have additions to make. Also you can join my discussions on linked in the Strategy, Marketing & Innovation forum at: http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1899487
I have been working for some time now to get my hands around Twitter. In order to get some external feedback as well I posted last week in a number of groups/forums the question; Now you are on Twitter – What’s Next?
Within 24hrs I received more than 50 reactions, showing that many people – like myself – are busy with this question. Herewith I would like to share with you my answer to the question, enriched with the answers of fellow marketing professionals & twitter users. Thank you all for your feedback.
To start; many people confirm that if you are on Twitter to develop your business, you should first be clear about what your (online) marketing goal is and how Twitter can play a role in achieving this.
Twitter (or do I better say Microblogging) is still young in it’s existence and as some people pointed out, like many new tools will need time to develop it’s full potential. Just think about how websites and e-mail looked at the start.
One of the strong potentials Twitter has is the connection to mobile products. With the platforms of PCs and mobile devices growing closer and the strong familiarity Twitter has with SMS, it could lead to very strong integrations. None of us likes to type long texts on small devices.
Also we see now Twitter being integrated more and more in consumer electronics e.g. in TVs. Although I do not see us enterering yet tweets with our current remotes; having access to your tweets also on this platform might be of interest in the years to come (e.g. certain tweets filtered as a ticker text below what you are watching in order to keep your informed of tweets you most care about immediately).
But before we speculate too much about this, the most important point right now to look at – would be in my view – how to use it to realise your current marketing objectives and build your internet presence. Driving people to the right places in the dot .com/.org/…. environment. There is only so much communication you can do in 140 characters, there fore in many cases these URL shorteners do come in handy.
When you have defined what you want to communicate and where, Twitter can be used to keep your audience informed and/or give your follower/your self an alert to take action.
Which dots to connect depends of course very much on what you want to achieve. E.g. do you want to:
- Build a bigger/more loyal fan base on social media sites like Facebook & MySpace
- Promote your Blog or Group (one of my personal objectives)
- Drive more traffic to your website by sending regular updates to your customers/followers
- Feed the online blogger community that there is interesting news available to blog about
- Create a mini network or tribe
- Set up 2 way communication with your most customers/relationships
- Send messages which hopefully are re-tweeted and spread the word around
Twitter is by far not the only tool to use here. Which ones to use depends on which part of the puzzle to solve (see also my earlier blog on “how to use Twitter better as a marketing tool”). My advice is to not wait for the next better/all-in-one solution to cover all your online needs. Many solutions will come & go and currently Twitter is one of the biggest & fastest growing applications around, with many tools to further improve it’s use. For me it is not about looking at/waiting for what is next; start with what we have now, make the best use of it and be flexible when the landscape changes. This is valid for all tools, not only Twitter.
I look forward to get your feedback on the information above, in this blog or if you are on LinkedIn and interested in discussions on Strategy, Marketing & Innovation please join the forum I have started on LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1899487 – where I will keep on posting and encouraging interesting discussions.
This by the way brings me to another important feedback that was given a couple of times: Do your marketing on Twitter (and other social media) in a subtle and relevant way, otherwise people will “unfollow” you very quickly and stop listening/visiting. I hope the message above to share feedback & find out more is relevant and subtle enough.
After doing some checking on the various blog sites and tools, I have decided to go for WordPress as platform to host my profesional blog. Therefor soon you will see my postings appearing here on the subjects of Strategy, Marketing & Innovation. I am still in the trail & error phase of adding various sources of content to my networking setup, such as twitter & RSS feeds. You already will see a few on this site and if you have experience yourself on how to enrich the content of the blob further, let me know