Roadmap

I’m working one for the evolution of our intranet/digital workplace. I need to think about all the activities people do online, all the tools that fulfil those needs and what development is being thought of for the tools. For added fun, quite a lot of these tools aren’t strictly speaking my responsibility.

Roadmap sounds a bit buzzword-y, but a roadmap is just a high-level plan that sets out the major steps on the way to a strategic goal. It might cover more than one project and indicate dependencies, it should show phases and expected release dates. A technology roadmap will lean towards process steps, and it can be used to communicate across project teams for all steps in the all projects.

My need is a little different, I want to communicate with a wider audience, for stakeholders and end users who are outside the project teams. I’m trying to bring clarity to a diverse group who haven’t got time to read a lot of detail, but need something more specific than a beautiful  vision. It should convey what they can expect to see and when – and give some idea of where they can give input. A roadmap has the right level of detail, and if I can make it visually appealing people will understand what to expect almost at a glance. For a project like putting a new publication environment in place for digital channels it will look something like this.

I used to joke about how my answer to any work question could be given with boxes and arrows. It’s time to bring out those boxes and arrows in a big way.

Image via pixabay 

More than a Tweet; Strategy

It takes more than a tweet to make a company social. This is part 3 of a 7 part series.

I’ll explain what a social media strategy is, give some resources to help you and take the next step with the imaginary NewArt Museum.

Social Media Strategy

Your vision defines what you want to be, your strategy answers the question of how you’re going to get there.

This should be closely aligned to the business goals, and take into account the competitive environment, HBR and McKinsey both offer advice on the sort of things you need to consider in developing a strategy. Mintzberg offers some different perspectives on definitions of strategy, which one works might depend on your organisational culture.

What business goal are you trying to achieve? Your activities on social media should be contributing to business value, and you must be able to measure the business value. This sounds difficult, but with a well defined business goal it becomes much simpler.

As you define the strategy you also need to find ways to involve stakeholders and build commitment from senior stakeholders, particularly those who hold the purse strings.

A strategy often contains an element of planning, that’s fine, but keep it high level, talk about phases rather than detail. Including this will help you keep your strategy feasible.

CASE STUDY; NewArt Museum

It’s easiest to use an example to think of this. Imagine you run a museum, and your goal is to attract younger visitors. You must use the social media platforms relevant to the audience, Instagram for example is popular with 18-29-year-olds.

To achieve that goal the museum will create exhibitions that appeal to a younger audience, reach out to art students and campaign on platforms that match their target audience.

One of the Museum directors commits to acting as the sponsor of the whole programme and she delegates the communications manager to be in the lead for the social media strategy and deployment.

Although the launch of the “new” NewArt Museum is some months away the communications manager wants to get started there’s a lot to do!

It takes more than a tweet to make a company social

It takes a lot to make a company really social, certainly more than witty tweets.

I borrowed this title from a tweet, that led to an article (in Dutch) on what it takes to make a company social. That list includes; Connections, Conversations, Consistency, Content, Context and Continuity. I agree with the article’s premise, but my list differs.

Here they are in a roughly logical order, although they inter-relate and often develop in parallel.

  1.  Vision
    What is the vision you have for social media? What does it bring the company/organisation?
  2. Strategy
    How can you reach that vision and deliver against business goals?
  3. Infrastructure
    The governance, accounts, tools, and processes needed to get build a social company, with a strong presence in social media.
  4. People
    An inspired team, committed leadership and an organisational culture built on openness and innovation.
  5. Measurement
    What are you going to measure? How will you know when you’re successful?
  6. Cold hard cash
    Generally the social media accounts themselves are free, but increasingly you need ad spend to build exposure. Some tools cost money, and of course creating content is rarely “free”.

I will delve into each of these in detail in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Innovation and Strategy

I went to a seminar today given by C.K. Prahalad, author of “The New Age of Innovation“, discussing innovation and strategy. He’s an entertaining speaker, stimulating and teasing the audience.

Much of his speech focussed on the two big insights from his book, summarised as N=1 and R=G.

N=1
One consumer at a time
This encompasses the idea that successful, innovative businesses will customise the consumer experience to an individual level. He pointed to examples such as NikeID, iPod.
R=G
Resources are global
Few companies will have all the resources within the company to create these individual experiences so will rely on other companies and form partnerships

None of this felt new or startling to me, the book was published a year ago – but that’s not it. We’d discussed the same sort of concepts in a class I took at Nyenrode almost 10 years ago.

I found the question session more interesting; when asked about the current crisis his reaction was that we’re seeing a “fundamental reset of the finanical systems” adding that a year ago “no-one would have predicted you’d be able to buy a cup of coffee for the price of three GM shares”. He advised that the only certainty he could see is that we will be doing things differently “you can’t do more of the same to get out of this”.

As with any seminar we were anxious to know what was the takeaway – and the presenter obligingly asked him “what should we be doing tomorrow?”

C.K. Prahalad’s answer was “Don’t do anything tomorrow morning”

There’s answer I can use I thought, but he explained that to act without understand was doomed so time needs to be spent analysing, reflecting, thinking. And then when we do act we should “Think Big”, “Start Small” and “Scale Fast”.

Who stays, who goes, who decides.

The news is full of financial woes, failing companies and bailouts. Many of the company recovery plans include layoffs, in the thousands – and representing 5-10% of many companies.

So far the focus has been on the “big picture”, and as the decisions are being made we’re starting to see the effects – on our colleagues. For most it sucks, for a few – a very few – it’s a welcome relief and they can fund a big change.

But how is the decision made?

  1. First in, first out
    It has the advantage of being easy to decide, but may be expensive;
    – long service people will receive higher redundancy packages
    – your company loses valuable experience
    – you may put the company at risk of an age discrimination case
  2. Last in, first out
    Again this is relatively easy to decide, but also has some costs;
    – some of those new people are talents, and you spent time and money hiring them into key positions, presumably because the skills did not exist within the company.
  3. Bottom 10%
    Using the lowest performers based on their recent performance review, it’s seductively simple; but
    – good managers will retrain, change roles or remove the worst performers every year so by removing 10% across the board you may punish efficient (and money making) business units more than inefficient ones.
  4. Who wants to go
    Making those redundant who do want to go has the advantage of removing a lot of personal anguish for both managers and employees however
    – it’s unlikely to be in large enough numbers to meet cost cutting goals (and if it is you may have other, unconsidered problems.
    – if the “volunteers” are in key positions you may struggle to find a replacement internally, or make a case for external recruitment
  5. Anyone the boss doesn’t like
    While I suspect that this is a factor on occasion – perhaps when distinguishing between two otherwise equal candidates for a layoff- it’s not a useful, fair or legal strategy.
  6. Structural
    By analysing the work done in the department/business unit or company, including prioritising tasks you can assess which roles are less critical and make a decision on that. This has the added advantage of removing the analysis of performance or personalities for at least the first steps.

So what is the best answer?

I think a combination; the structual approach to make the high level decisions, possibly inline with any strategy changes that are also required. This will generate a list of positions that need to be removed. Then within each position chose the person who must leave based on a combination of “who wants to go?” and performance analysis.

Image: stop via pixabay