I had an interesting meeting in London last week, with a few people from one of our bigger and better-known global organisations, who, like everybody else right now are looking for ways to stretch their budgets.

I have been saying for years, the difference between successful companies and unsuccessful ones is efficiency – nothing more or less.  Its a matter of what you can do with the resources at your disposal. What’s happened in the last few months to make this issues more critical is, of course, the recession.  Now the race is really hotting up and even the most successful organisations are racing to find ways to maintain or even increase pressure on their competitors while reducing their investment .  In other words everyone is desperate to increase efficiency in every area of their organisation and that puts Full Effect Marketing bang on target.

The people I was talking to were by anybody’s standard successful and their efficiency is probably about as good as it can get using contemporary practices, philosophies and models, but as more and more organisations have discovered recently this just isn’t good enough.  They cited three issues that they are struggling with right now, all of which boiled down to the same thing.

  • Too many short-lived propositions – or as I would express it, campaigns with no legs – so they were wasting time, effort and money setting up and running a continuous stream of short tactical propositions that are going nowhere.
  • Missed opportunities brought about by failing to recognise and plan to exploit all their options ahead of time.  This sometimes means that they have had to hold up launches while forgotten elements were nailed on (with the kind of compromises that you have to expect when this happens), occasionally they effectively plan-out potential that they have missed, so that to reinstate it later means cumbersome and inefficient delivery and also, from time to time they just miss opportunities altogether.
  • Inefficient execution or just failing to engage all the expertise within the organisation early enough to ensure that campaigns are delivered on time with all the Is dotted and Ts crossed.

As they said, no longer can they afford to invest in promotions and propositions that don’t milk investment for all its worth.  If only a few more organisations recognised that.  Their problem is that they were viewing these problems as training deficiencies, when the truth was far more fundamental.

Its a fact that executives in most organisations, like policemen, are much younger than they used to be.  This has its advantages, such as high energy levels and enthusiasm (although I sometimes wonder about this), plus, of course younger managers are usually cheaper to employ and hungry for success, which enables employers to apply the carrot principle with greater success.  However its not all pluses.  There are disadvantages too and the biggest and most significant, as far as the scenario we are talking about here is concerned, is a lack of experience.  While business is becoming more complicated with a full-hand comprising more and far more diverse disciplines, executives, because they are younger, have experienced fewer (simply because they just haven’t had time to acquire more) and as careers develop, the focus seems to be on depth rather than breadth of experience.  This limits both their understanding and their management capability and adds to the reliance many larger organisations (and this one was a case in point) have on processes, the only purpose of which is to overcome experience deficiencies, but, which, in the process, limit scope for free-thought.

The thing about establishing the perspective that allows us to see all the implications and opportunities of an initiative is that its pretty well impossible, to processise.  The vision that enables an executive to see all the opportunities and identify all the departments, specialists and skills that need to be engaged in efficient delivery is simply a product of experience.  So, if you can’t processise this stuff the only option left is to employ people with the experience.  I’m not saying that youth has no place in the modern recruitment strategy, but there’s no getting away from it, if you want to up your game to the kind of level that we all need going forward from today, you need experience too and that means creating a blend of young and older executives and creating a culture in which they can work together, combining everyone’s skills to deliver the solutions a modern business needs.

Michael Weaver
June 1, 2009

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