Branding is many times looked at a marketing exercise senior executives should consider that the work of defining one’s vision mission and values lays a strong foundation when looking at the implications for building internal culture and process. Starting at the top of the strategic planning hierarchy, brand can set the vision set the tone and compass for that the organization will take. The work is only beginning at this point as a further and more in-depth look must be taken for mapping values across the organization. Many values based analysis tends to stay at the brand level and speak to the overall values to convey in the marketing. Having individual departments conduct their own values exercise is a great way to understand how different areas of the business see themselves within the organizational structures. At the center of this methodology that Cheval Partners uses are exercises to help team and managers conduct value identification and prioritization.
Many interesting insights come out of the exercise:
- There are usually vast differences between functional areas. This would be natural to expect as some are focused on customer service, others on operational aspects and some focused on building new areas of the business. This should be looked at as health as each group has its own focus. What is critical is to start to define value chains within the organization and begin to understand when values or standard operating procedures are in conflict with the overriding values of the entire chain.
- Study different levels of the management hierarchy. Is their alignment to purpose or conflict. This can be a good indicator that the incentive models in the organization are created correctly or have become more political than mission based. A shiny mission statement about teamwork does not fix a culture of infighting.
- A close look must be paid to management values and team values. Many times the root cause when managers are focused on politics are tuned into that conversation and missing the team is aligned on the mission. This is where the danger of a culture where managers are only working to please their boss and climb to the next level creates the most conflict. Leaders need to focus their managers on supporting the team’s mission and through that success be rewarded.
- When values are in conflict, one has to establish ground rules for value basing ( or debasing). A simple example are two teams in a value chain that are focused on speed vs. quality or depth of service vs. market growth. In most cases general 80/20 policies can help guide teams in mainstream decisions. Its when the exception comes along that escalation to leadership needs not only a decision, but the directives to how both teams will receive mutual benefits, especially for the team that might have to concede in some way or metric to the greater good. It is in these times of exceptions that culture is built and cross-team collaboration can be celebrated
- Value base shifts. In a time where markets are driving rapid innovation and agility, values are also subject to change. Now that said, core values do not change! I’m talking about the shift of focus and values of teams in various functions of the organization that are undergoing change. Long standing and successful teams build a conviction behind their values and past successes. It is important to re-address what the value shifts may be explicitly during times of change.
With a the values exercise in place and constantly managed. An organization is now ready to begin process and governance phases of organizational design or change. Branding can be a powerful catalyst around identify, but making the organization align to deliver on the brand promise is even a greater challenge. I will dive into more details of the values based exercises and then move into dynamic governance models in future blogs.
I was part of team going through global branding for a large scale North American company who had engaged the agency Yamamoto. An impressive team of agency creatives, corporate employees, and external advisors participated. Branding for multi-cultural application was quite extensive. This work eventually led to thematic branding considerations through several lenses both internal, external and customer centric. The end result developed everything from brand naming, symbols, iconography, and color palette one should not consider that to be the end to building a culture that supports the brand. This was a great experience, but now begins the internal work of aligning the company.
—– What’s next ? Read part II
I had a follow up to the Cluster Analysis kick off hosted at the UMN last September 2014. Joining me on the call was the MN Director of innovation and we where exploring partnership opportunities around the collection of economic data in both the public data and innovation space. My particular interest was in capturing addition data around innovation centers the full lifecycle of start-up maturation on a regional level. Though partnerships with centers and through integration with public data sources we could get a level deeper in the economic activity happening in the corporate and entrepreneurial areas. By building on the standards already set forth in the cluster analysis we hope to define the next level of data in this area so that all regions could capture data consistently for analysis. We are looking to develop analytics for the health and activity within clusters around the time, cost, and progress made by start-ups and corporate innovation initiatives. The innovation centers provide a great base where much of this activity is happening and can be one of key sources of data for the overall model. I’ve been working with economist and other data analytics specialists to develop economic data models to this end and identifying the public, private, and NGO data partnerships that could provide valuable in a integrated data capture strategy.