20 Nov 2013

The Auto-complete Truth #WomenShould

A very powerful ad campaign by Ogilvy for UN Women which needs no further introduction or comment. Find out more about UN Women by following them on twitter @UN_Women and monitor the response to this film with the hashtag #WomenShould.

18 Nov 2013

Time To Challenge The System?

One of my first ever jobs was as a front of house receptionist in a large hotel. We operated a bizarre system for arrivals and departures known as the 3 Day Live which involved identical black folders and lots of registration cards. None of the receptionists understood why a hotel that was open 7 days a week worked to a system that involved just 3 days, but I was a junior so kept my mouth shut and muddled through. At check out there were long queues and confusion but as the system was the brainchild of my line manager, his ego ensured it stayed in place. 

When I worked for the airlines someone in marketing came up with the idea to offer business class passengers the delicacy of strawberries and cream ice-cream during Wimbledon fortnight. How lovely! However it was a scorching hot summer and the ice-creams became a gooey sticky mess before we'd even taken off. Nice in theory, impractical in reality.

The management never questioned the queues at reception and in all my years as a flight supervisor/ product rep I never met anyone from the marketing department. If they had set foot in an Airbus galley the ice-cream idea would never have got off the ground.This lack of communication is a familiar challenge for large organisations especially when it goes unnoticed and unchallenged. 

Answer honestly. 
  • How well do the departments within your organisation communicate? 
  • Is the right information being reported to the senior team? 
  • What information and feedback do the senior team share with other departments? 
  • What does your organisation do with all that data it collects? 
  • Do you spot trends in data and use that to shape decisions?

Digital reports provide a huge amount of insight into consumer behaviour but they are only part of the puzzle. Technology is your friend but a person, a real life human being, still needs to identify and ask for specific data in relation to measuring success against business goals. Internal communication systems then need to support the sharing and discussion of that information to turn knowledge into action. (Action being product dev., the planning and shaping of marketing campaigns, staff training, identifying strengths and weaknesses etc). The data won't support business development whilst its gathering dust in the corner and it won't supporting business growth if only half of the team know what's happening. 

That all sounds like common sense but as a consultant I experience many different working environments, in a wide range of sectors and I know the reality is that often departments work in isolation. It's not intentional, it's simply habit that is supported by out of date systems, designed for organisations that have drastically changed in the last 5,10,15 years. In sticking with the habit and never challenging the system (with a smile not a raised fist) they are missing huge opportunities. 

Talking and openly sharing information saves time, effort and money. It boosts morale and helps teams identify objectives and achieve shared goals, enabling organisations to be proactive rather than reactive. Is it time to address the internal systems and working cultures that are potentially holding you back?

If I can help with strategy, training or consultancy feel free to get in touch. You'll find me on LinkedIn or email annie at annie boyd dot com. 

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Cartoon images via dementeddenizens.com