The Lead: Succeed as CMO, Starbucks Follows Wal-Mart’s Lead, Netflix’s Budget

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

Cross-Collaborate to Succeed as a Chief Marketing Officer

In today’s business environment, chief marketing officers (CMOs) must take on a variety of roles that extend well beyond branding, advertising, and lead generation. For CMOs to be successful today, they must collaborate with people throughout their organizations to focus on everything from product development, operations, sales, finance, information technology, and human resources. Without cross-collaboration real problems arise, and insufficient input from marketing in R&D projects was attributable to up to 68% of total product failures and 21% of partial failures in a study by William Souder, the head of the University of Alabama College of Administrative Sciences.

Our View: Find ways to collaborate across functions, geographies, and even beyond your own organization. In the modern organization, excellent leaders collaborate across different professions, organizations, and industries. Work becomes less and less about thinking linearly, looking inward and creating cooperative functional teams, and more about creating cross-boundary teams that are complex, constantly changing, and that create synergy. Further Reading

Starbucks Follows New Standard Set by Wal-Mart

The improving economy, tightening U.S. job market, and pressure from state lawmakers are all factors prompting employers to use perks to keep salaried staff and hourly workers. Only about 6% of U.S. low-income workers have access to paid parental leave, but that is changing. The largest U.S. private employer Wal-Mart added paid family leave for all employees, and less than two weeks later, Starbucks Corp. expanded paid parental leave to most of its hourly workers.

Our View: Business leaders understand that employee retention is important because it’s expensive when employees leave. Keeping committed, engaged employees requires effort, but providing a healthy work environment benefits both the organization and its employees. A healthy work environment encompasses physical safety, wellness programs, good relationships, community engagement, and employee benefits. Further Reading

Netflix’s Increasing Multibillion-Dollar Content Budget

The leading streaming service Netflix continues to grow its subscriber base, and they are continuing to add to their multibillion-dollar content budget. Netflix is also increasing their marketing spend from about $1.25 billion to about $2 billion.

Our View: Netflix is a great example of discovery-driven growth. Evolving its model from a postage DVD rental model, Netflix adapted to a streaming service and content provider. Survival in the digital age requires organizations to adopt discovery-driven approaches to stay close to customers and adapt business models. The first step starts with identifying the primary needs your offering addresses and noting which customer segments find those needs important. Analyze the drawbacks of existing solutions from a customers’ point of view, and brainstorm alternative ways to meet customers’ needs. Further Reading

Digital Change Agents

Employees acting as digital change agents are a key to digital transformation success in organizations. “True digital transformation is more than just technology—it’s just as much about changing behaviors and organizational structures,” said Gary Cole, principal of Deloitte’s Human Capital Technology Strategy. He added, “if tools are implemented but are not endorsed at the C-level or built into the culture, companies tend to throw them away and get new tools, without driving any real transformation.”

Our View: Digital transformations and other types of organizational transformations that rely on increasing interconnectedness and rapid change are more apt to succeed when people understand the inner workings of collaboration and influence. The true drivers of employee behavior can be understood through The NeuroLeadership Group’s SCARF model which involves five domains of human social experience: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. This model helps leaders remember, recognize, and potentially adjust the core social domains that drive human behavior. Further Reading

Quantum Epistemology of Social Phenomena

People often think of data as given and incontrovertible, but what managers, data scientists, and social scientists think of as data is in fact not given. When garnering data and insights from data, the results depend on who asked for it, how it’s asked for, and when and under what conditions it’s asked for. People often work under the illusion of “classical information” and “classical measurement” when they deal with human and organizational phenomena, but the process of measurement is an interaction between an observer, a technique or tool, and a context.

Our View: Business leaders face the challenge of turning data into meaningful stories that lead to business success. Leaders who do this successfully don’t focus on data points, but rather they focus on trends, especially when they change direction. They compare time ranges and search for strong relationships between variables. Data should be used to drive decisions, not merely support them. Further Reading

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