Monthly Archives: January 2011

Overcoming Inertia

by Dan Woychick

In decentralized organizations, decision making is not confined to a few executives but rather shared by all – or at least more – members of the team. In theory, this makes sense. Two heads are better than one, so three must be better than two and so on. Unfortunately, it often ends up looking like this (click image to enlarge):

Humorous infographic of a ponderous decision-making process.Empowerment and collaboration
In the modern world, it’s common for people to seek employment that not only provides a paycheck, but is intellectually and emotionally stimulating. Managers are well-served by building and relying on the talents of their people. When employees grow in competence and value, it benefits the organization and the individual.

However, this management style can go too far. In the guise of empowerment, a manager may blur job responsibilities and dither away opportunities by listening to too many people. If staff is consulted, but ideas never implemented, production and morale can suffer.

Decisiveness and speed
An entrepreneurial organization is usually considered more innovative and responsive to changes in the market. Generally, a strong leader sets forth a vision and inspires others to follow. However, the same leader can become a bottleneck, lack the ability to transfer knowledge or make difficult choices.

Finding the sweet spot
To discourage inertia, leaders must guide expectations. Not everyone who wants to be on a team or committee should be included. The leader must be able to set a clear direction and articulate what is needed from each person – and why. This exercise of authority can make some people uneasy. It’s hard to tell people things they may not want to hear.

Problems occur when the power structure is out of balance, either from the top down or the bottom up. To reach organizational nirvana – a well-coordinated and highly-productive team with clarity over membership, roles and goals – leaders must learn how to communicate with colleagues as well as they do with constituents.

Related Content:
Why Teams Don’t Work
The Secret to Ensuring Follow-Through

Day Traders

by Dan Woychick

Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful. – Warren Buffett

At the turn of the century, as technology granted ambitious individuals opportunity to compete with institutional investors, we witnessed the growth of day trading in the stock market. Day traders obsessively buy and sell positions, attempting to profit from market volatility. Unfortunately, around 80% of all day traders lose money.

Flash forward to 2010, a year in which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was recognized as TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year.” In his commentary on the social network’s influence, Facebook Puts All Brands on Notice, branding consultant Simon Mainwaring writes:

The power of Facebook is the relationships it fosters and how that gives individuals and brands influence over their fans and friends. Variously called social capital or influence, this ability to exercise influence means that brands become day traders in social emotion and continually manage their reputations.

Facebook’s unmatched ability to instantly connect millions of people has changed the way we do business – of that there is no question. Where I take issue with Mr. Mainwaring is in his assessment of what that means for marketers. Do we really want or need to influence our customer’s “social emotions” on a daily basis?

Affirming this as a goal seems a bit self-serving for the social marketer, as it gives license to remain ever busy providing up-to-the-minute (or second) brand management. There’s another emotion at play here as well – fear. What if I’m not doing enough? What if my competition is tweeting while I’m sleeping? How come no one “liked” our latest Facebook post? To me, this behavior seems unhealthy.

The question should really be: Do our customers want to have “relationships” with us? Based on consumer trends toward self-service, evidence seems to be mounting that customers aren’t seeking a dialogue. Here’s a sobering thought: Is it possible your customers are “just not that in to you?”

Being responsive to your customers is always good business, whether face-to-face or online. Investing in social media will keep you plenty busy, but removing daily obstacles to self-service may do more for your customer relationships than all the tweets in China.

Related Content:
Why Your Customers Don’t Want to Talk to You
Ads in the Age of Hysteria