Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Organization (Re)Alignment and 360 Degree Messaging.

Executive Summary: Tools to tackle the "softer" aspects of organizational (re)alignment- backed by analytics, like the Identity Circle, in a previous post- need to be prioritized when organizational initiatives are planned. Purely as a current example, snippets from the global discussion on Toyota's response to its car performance crisis provide you the starting point to think about, and build, the tools to weigh your options more effectively.

The Crisis
Toyota is facing a massive car performance crisis. It has needed various parts of its ecosystem, which includes car dealers, sales, marketing, PR, operations, finance and suppliers, to move in a concerted manner across various channels to tackle it. The crisis has the potential to impact the industry as a whole. Yes, that's where the term 360 degree messaging comes in. It implies both external and external messaging.

The Conversation
Below is a snippet from the global discussion about Toyota's crisis that shed light on the response to the crisis:
1. Accelerating towards crisis: a PR view of Toyota's recall

As you would have noted, this article talks about crises that companies like Mattel and Cadburys have tackled previously. Toyota's crisis happens to be a current example in a continuum. The conclusion? A brand/ PR crisis is not an "unthinkable". It may be a Black Swan, but it needs to be explicitly considered.

Organizational (Re)Alignment?
How does the organization and/ or its ecosystem tie into a crisis response? Lets look at some questions that help us evaluate this.

* Are crisis response issues worth minimizing in advance? Do they deserve upfront planning and resources?
* Are crises response issues black swans?
* Is response to a crisis purely an external messaging issue? Is it a leadership issue? Is it an across-the-board organization/ ecosystem issue?
* Would tools that effectively (re)align organizations have helped Toyota or other organizations in crisis?
* Would the results of implementing such tools have helped response?
* Which tools are more effective at providing leadership, or the overall organization, levers to deploy an effective response?
* What tools are available?
* What are the pros and cons of each?
* How effective are each of these tools?

What do you think?


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Identity Circle: A Talk by Larry Ackerman

Executive Summary: Larry Ackerman gave an amazing talk on the Identity Circle recently in NYC. His insights and measured responses to queries led to an enlightening evening for the audience, and a fleshing out of the concept and implementation of The Identity Circle. A perspective would be to look at molding/ creating an organization's identity as a tool in a spectrum of initiatives toward organizational (re)alignment.

The Talk
Larry's talk was an interesting insight into the challenges of identifying and molding an organization's identity. The website below provides a great overview:

It was refreshing to see the presenter acknowledge sources that have provided a foundation for his work- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was one of four.

Apple was a case in point of an organization that has transitioned through various markets and technologies while maintaining a core identity. Maytag is another example where his work yielded results.

Larry's experience with a multiyear engagement at a large, complex, multi-market organization shed light on the effort that goes into moving toward an identity for an organization. The challenges are greater for acquisitive organizations.

Plan for Organizational (Re?)Alignment
Larry explicitly tied in the Identity Circle with organizational alignment initiatives. However, how would you rank order this (re?)alignment initiative when an organization picks its top 3 initiatives for a period?

A Perspective on Organization Realignment
The concept can be looked upon as a part of a spectrum of initiatives organizations may use to realign themselves, where Identity Circle occupies the "softer" range of the spectrum, which is usually occupied by the communication/ messaging tools. Specific cost cutting and process and revenue improvement initiatives occupy the "harder" range of the spectrum. This tool provides leadership the levers for a faster turnaround toward results from hard initiatives.

Note: Larry pointed out in his talk that Identity Circle is backed by hard, analytical tools- its categorized under "soft" tools here as it's "direct" results focus on perception and attitudes. Looking at the steps in the process, you might agree that they are nothing but "hard". :-)

Now, the key challenge remains- given the need for all organizations, public and private, to turn around quick financial results, what would trigger an organization to target a complex and potentially long term initiative in its top 3 items on the "to do" list?

Some More Questions
Larry's thoughts on some of the questions I discussed with him.

1. Identity Beyond The Organization:
* Given that quite often, a nation may be attributed with an identity. Does the Identity Circle applies only to organizations?
- Yes. However, an organization with an identity may span diverse and complex entities.
* Does an industry like the diamond industry -from DeBeers with "Diamonds are Forever" in the 1930s to players like Zales today with DeBeers still a large player- shares an identity?
- No, the players share an image- the identity circle is still tied to the organization.

2. Identity and the Market:
* Do hypercompetitive markets, like Christiansen's Disk storage industry case, "own" the identity (or a large percentage of the identity) of an organization?
- No. The market plays a role in the identity of the organization, but the organization firmly owns its identity, even in extremely hypercompetitive markets that see frequent churn in participating players. Apple was a case in point.

3. Google and China:
* How does Google reconcile the hacker attack problems with China, its core theme of "Don't be Evil", and its initial intent of being an active player in China, despite known challenges going in?
- Google's tactical decision-making may vary to reconcile various objectives; however, longer term, its moves will be in line with its identity.

What do you think?