Seeing the Unseen in your Marketing Operations

Ever walk into the room when someone else was mad or had a serious argument with someone else in the room, and though you didn’t see or hear it, you knew something wasn’t right?  You could feel it.  The attitude was thick, like an invisible smoke, and it clung to everything in the room.  Well, that’s an example of part of what I call “Seeing the Unseen”.

When it comes to moving your marketing organization up a notch, it means moving the rest of your organization up a notch as well, because, well, the marketing function doesn’t exist in a box.  And if you think it does, then we need to get you some super X-ray vision glasses, because there is a lot that you aren’t seeing.X-Ray Glasses

To improve marketing, the first step is understanding what is actually going on, which means mapping your core processes.  What is a core process?  Its one of those macro, big, overall sorts of things, like making a widget.  Core processes may have many sub-processes in them, but overall, its what you do in order to do what you do.  Got it?

The problem you will run into, is that if you aren’t experienced with process analysis and mapping, then chances are that you will actually record what you want to have happen or project what you wish was being done vs. what is actually being done.  But if you get it right, and you can hang that on the wall, then you’ve just created the instrument that all improvement can be based on.

Think of it, with a process map, you begin to see the current state vs. your soon-to-be-defined desired state.  You can see places that are lean and mean or fat and filthy.  You can look at what’s being measured, what ought to be measured, and what you probably should stop wasting your time measuring (executive’s like metrics, but let me tell you – most of them are pure waste.  I’ll have to write on that later). And you add insight into communications and information sharing, decision-making, performance and talent, and all of a sudden you have the organization right there before your eyes to no longer subject you to its whims and fancies, to be subjected by you. At least in theory.

Can_factory_workers_stamping_out_end_discs,_published_1909The bottom line is this: Start today. You don’t need an exhaustive effort or even a Visio file to begin.  Simply take out a piece of scratch paper and determine the first, most overall thing that you do:  Draw a factory in the middle of the page (that’s the marketing department, or sales, or accounting, or HR or whatever).  Then draw an arrow coming out of the factory to the right and write down what it is that the factory produces.  Try not to make a list of things, but the one thing, overall, that it produces inside that sweat-shop of horrors.  Next draw an arrow going into the factory at the left, and write down what the input is into the factory – the raw materials that will magically be transformed inside by a group of hourly and salaried and sometimes volunteer workers pushing buttons and pulling levels and wiping their diaphoretic foreheads.

And now you have started.  You can begin to look inside the factory, and follow the inputs, as a fly on the wall or a speck on the raw materials, and trace them through their transformation into the big product that will come out the other end.  Along the way, note the places that the inputs change form into something completely different (like raw customer data into an ideal customer profile, or requirements into a campaign plan), just like a cake mix changes with the addition of eggs into a completely different substance.

With a little time and some more scratch paper, you can develop a working model of the work process that flows through your organization, and the foundation is then laid for operational insight, measurement and management for organizational success.  If that doesn’t work, I have been known to donate a lot of hours to helping others out.  Feel free to reach out.


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