Monday 21 August 2017

Influencing Commercial vs. Supply Chain Change Management

Business functions, like organizations, have cultures. They are defined by the mindsets, actions, and behaviours that govern how work gets done.

A function’s culture can have more influence on how a change initiative is managed than the company’s culture. Identifying the dominant culture, either function or company, is important to people supporting change because aligning with it increases their level of influence. The greater the influence, the greater their contribution to preparing people for new ways of working.

I realized the difference between Commercial (Marketing, Market Research, and Sales) and Supply Chain (Manufacturing, Logistics, and Distribution) cultures when I helped a global organization refresh its operating model. We held three design workshops that were attended by cross-functional representatives. Two were Commercial-led and one was Supply Chain-led. The Commercial-led workshops were similar in agenda, activities, and tone, even though the sponsor and attendees were different. The Supply Chain-led workshop was completely different – the planning process, session design, and discussions bore little resemblance to the first two.

The reason for these differences lies in the areas of focus. They affect how these groups think, what they value, how they invest their time, and what they discuss. The biggest difference is the outcomes they seek: Commercial strives for growth while Supply Chain strives for cost savings. Examples of growth outcomes are increased sales, market share, and profit. Cost savings outcomes include higher case fill rate and asset utilization, and lower operating expenses.

Growth and cost savings outcomes can be in conflict. Think of the Marketing Brand Manager who is motivated to quickly change product packaging based on new consumer research to increase brand awareness and sales. And the Plant Manager in charge of production who is motivated to delay this change until the existing packaging inventory is used to reduce material waste and operating costs. Both contrary perspectives are correct within the context of the different outcomes they seek to achieve.

One way to increase your influence during change is to align with the desired outcomes of the dominant culture. Here are three ways to do so.

Communicate how your recommendations contribute to achieving the outcomes
Noting how your contributions help achieve the dominant culture’s outcomes is the easiest way to increase influence. Established outcomes provide undisputed rationale for approval of activities. If your rationale is sound and the other alternatives contribute less to the outcomes, your recommendations are likely to be approved.

This tactic also works for recommendations about running a project. For Supply Chain-led initiatives, recommendations that eliminate rework, simplify processes, and better deploy resources are well positioned to be approved because they reflect outcomes valued by the dominant culture.

Work within preferred outcome time frames
Marketing and Supply Chain orient differently to outcome time frames. Supply Chain projects have a greater focus on annual results, even if the project runs longer than a year. In contrast, many Marketing projects focus on the long-term outcomes over interim targets.

The difference in timeline orientation is most pronounced when interim targets are missed. Supply Chain focuses on closing the immediate gap, whereas Marketing focuses on when the gap is best filled over the duration of the initiative. Working within preferred time frames increases the relevance of your recommendations.

Use existing templates associated with the outcomes
Credibility is enhanced when using frameworks and formats people are accustomed to and comfortable with. Visual alignment can assist comprehension and credibility, and reduce barriers to adoption.

Commercial templates sourced from brand and sales plans or customer and consumer data reports, and Supply chain templates from asset purchase approval and operations planning communicate validity and rigour. Familiarity and acceptability can lead to greater perceived value, acceptance, and support.

Cultures guide the management of change initiatives. For some, it is the company’s culture and for others it the leading function's. Identifying the dominant culture is an important step to influencing change.

Different functions, like Commercial and Supply Chain, have different cultures with different areas of focus. Aligning with them increases the influence you have on change by evoking familiarity, increasing credibility, and lowering resistance.

Connecting with the outcomes valued by the dominant culture is a powerful way to increase your influence and contribution to managing change. A good first question to ask is, “What does this project seek to achieve?”

Sunday 6 August 2017

What I Learned from Lilly Singh's "How To Be A Bawse"

Lilly Singh is a digital media star with over 12 million Youtube followers on her iiSuperwomanii channel. She is also an entrepreneur, actor, world-touring entertainer, People’s Choice Award winner, Forbes, Time, and Inc. leader list member, brand ambassador, and two-time author.

Her latest book, How To Be A Bawse, A Guide to Surviving Conquering Life, soared to number two on the New York Times Best Sellers List when it was published in April. It is a hit.

Why did I read this self-help book written by someone whose audience in 2014 was 80 percent 14 to 25-year-old women? Research. I was looking for a fresh voice and perspective on the personal development space before starting my second book.

I noticed How To Be A Bawse on a table of books at Costco. It was hard to miss. The front and back cover are powerful, the table of contents intriguing and layout eye-catching. This is the inspiration I was looking for – homework can be exciting.

How To Be a Bawse is a collection of lessons Lilly has learned as she became “a Bawse” or, as defined on the back cover, “a person who exudes confidence, hustles relentlessly, reaches goals, gets hurt efficiently, and smiles generally because he or she fought through it all and made it out the other side.” Or as she told Jimmy Fallon, “Someone who conquers their whole life, not just at work, at home, in relationships, how they communicate; they just don’t survive life, they conquer it.”

Here is what I learned from How To Be A Bawse about creating an engaging and helpful guide:

  • Bite-sized learning is best – the book contains 50 short (2-5 pages), “easy to digest” chapters, one lesson per chapter.
  • Put your fingerprints on knowledge – multiple tips have been noted in previous self-help books, and yet are given fresh perspectives and applications, e.g. “I’ll visualize exactly what I want to happen” (The Magic of Believing, Claude Bristol); “Don’t be afraid to ask for things” (Self Esteem and Peak Performance, Jack Canfield).
  • Role model learning – share what you do. Lilly continually shares how she has been successful by following the lessons, which bestows authenticity.
  • Begin with a story – stories are engaging teachers. They provide context and relevance to the advice. They also provide personal credibility if they are about the author.
  • Use metaphors and analogies – they make insights relevant and real. “When you are climbing the ladder, the heaviest piece of clothing you wear is your pride.” Got it.
  • Help people take action – Lilly includes short action plans at the end of some chapters that help people apply her lessons, transitioning readers from intent to adoption (e.g. "Make an Investment. Outline one investment in each currency that will help you reach your goals: Time, Energy, and Money”).
  • Be quotable – Most chapters are summarized in easy to remember soundbites (e.g. “At the end of the day, you can’t learn new things if you’re always the one who is giving the lessons”; “Being a Bawse isn’t always about being the best; it’s about placing yourself in the best situations.”

  • Use sub-headings – titles help people scan for importance or speed, used often on the internet.
  • Pictures make the point – photos and illustrations are easier to absorb and are more stimulating than text because visuals add life to the content – use them freely.
  • Change it up – variety adds a feeling of movement, energy, and interest – heading styles, fonts, layout…be creative.
  • Use pull quotes – blowing up key points creates emphasis – you can’t miss them, especially if they take up a full page. They answer the question, “What is the most important thing you need to remember?”

  • Be different writing a “me-too” book diminishes meaning and threatens purpose. As Lilly says, “I wanted to make sure that whatever I offered was not only up to par but different from what was already out there.”
  • Motivate the reader Lilly checks in with the reader to motivate them to keep reading. Speak directly to the reader as they experience the content, as if you are along for the ride. A good example is in the Introduction: “Don’t feel bad if you forget things! I encourage you to read chapters over and over again because becoming a Bawse is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.”
  • Be directive – you are the expert so say what you believe is true. Lilly is in charge, evident by her “Rules for Reading this Book,” recommendations (e.g. “If you skipped to this chapter…now put the darts away and start from the beginning of the book”) and “Congratulations” in the conclusion.
  • Make it personal – a path to trust is showing vulnerability. Lilly shares her life’s doubts and low points through stories and journal entries, which brings the reader closer to her and the lessons she’s learned.
  • Humour makes things interesting – people fully engage in the moment when they are amused. As Lilly says, “I’ve worked really hard on writing this with the intent of making you laugh and inspired.” She is funny with a purpose; her humour supports her point, and she does so “with a healthy hint of sass.”
  • Make titles interesting – Books compete with all other forms of media so make your topics engaging (e.g. “You Are Not a Parking Ticket” – unwarranted validation leads to entitlement, and “The Alphabet is a Lie” – focus on Plan A; don’t have a Plan B).

I learned a lot from reading How To Be A Bawse, both from the lessons themselves and how they have been presented. Lilly does have a fresh perspective on creating a self-help guide through her content, formatting and style. Interestingly, her approaches would work just as well for other types of communication like public speaking and coaching.

What I learned most was the author’s ability to succinctly convey insights. Three of my favourites are:
  • “It’s clear that the majority of failed relationships are caused by one thing: having different priorities”;
  • “As with all expectations, you risk disappointment”; and
  • “Successful people understand the importance of positivity.”

Lilly’s lessons will guide far more than the creation of my next book.

So, do you want to be a Bawse? I know an excellent self-help guide that will help you become one. But as Lilly Singh says, “Everything takes effort.”