We hope that you and your loved ones have had a good start to 2015, and that the year brings both happiness and success. Let us all also hope that it brings peace and reduced fear in the world.
This month's issue has a Customer and Engagement theme. The leadership biography, by Victoria Yates, is on Bill Bernbach, a real leader and innovator in the advertising and marketing business. Bernbach believed that, "all of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level."
We have two featured articles. The first is "Putting ourselves back in charge", from Prof. Vlatka Hlupic. I had the pleasure to hear Vlatka speak in Parliament at the end of 2014. I asked her to write a post describing the research and the needed "Management Shift". Here it is.
The second is from Mick, on "Customer Leadership". This is Mick's way of describing how to help firms get better results - based on a uniquely connected understanding of leadership development, global brand marketing, retail and the application of Big Data analytics and insight.
Recent publicity around Stephen Hawking's fear that Artificial Intelligence could take over human society plays into a deep-rooted human fear of impotence before the inventions we create.
It sounds like a warning for the future, but arguably, this fear - that machines can or should or will control us humans - has been around for many decades, and has caused misapplications of technology. As this blog noted earlier this year, business planners at Ford caused plummeting quality standards and a strike in 1972 by increasing the pace of a production line beyond the ability of people to keep up. Since then, the corporate world has witnessed many similar failed initiatives at automation by governments and corporations who over-estimate the capability of machines, and neglect to manage their people well.
There is an alternative. This is to put ourselves back in charge, and to improve our ability to lead and to manage - both people and machines. This is something I have called the Management Shift, based on many years of research & development, and successful piloting in 20 businesses around the world.
My conclusions point to the need for a historic shift in perception and practice: to bring the management of people into the 21st Century, breaking with the Mediaeval concept of 'command and control'. This old approach, trying to turn robots into people while treating people like robots, is not fit for purpose. We already have abundant intelligence in the sentient beings called human who are on the payroll, the problem is that only a few enterprises - the likes of Whole Foods or WL Gore - manage them really well. Getting the people management right is the key to using technology well - in addition to everything else.
I have formed the conclusion that many efforts at improving people management have been stymied by being partial or limited. For example, some employers decentralize away from command and control structures, but still keep command and control mindsets. Or there are efforts to boost employee engagement through one-off initiatives, but no lasting improvement to the day-to-day management in the line.
The shift that I'm talking about concerns hearts and minds as well as policies. I have devised a 6 Box Model, designed to ensure attention to all core elements of managerial responsibilities. Three dimensions refer to people: Individuals, Relationships and Culture. Three relate to the organizational set-up: Strategy, Systems and Resources. I have found that the employers that diligently attend to all six areas do best, and experience hugely improved financial returns, as well as more fulfilled employees.
Perhaps the biggest shame is that breakthroughs in people management do not garner anything like the same media coverage as developments in Artificial Intelligence. Let's try to change that.
The Management Shift: How to Harness the Power of People and Transform your Organization for Sustainable Success, by Vlatka Hlupic, was published by Palgrave Macmillan, November 2014.
"Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make."
"Adapt your techniques to an idea, not an idea to your techniques."
"Word of mouth is the best medium of all."
Customer Leadership - Mick Yates
As regular readers will know, I prefer to talk about "Leadership" in the context of actual tasks, rather than in some theoretical fashion.
Likewise, whilst there's much focus on "Big Data" from a technology perspective, leaders must consider its real world application, challenges and opportunities.
In the past year or two, my work has increasingly been to help senior leaders build a strategic and organisational framework to allow them to make better use of data analytics and insight.
My published research had suggested that there are two overall business strategies to focus on. The first is Customer Centricity (driving towards personalised products and services) and the second is Innovation Networks (as an organizational design paradigm).
Today, every business leader's goal should be to better meet customer needs, treating each customer with a better, more engaging experience and striving for the best possible products and services.
Innovation Networks then drive the organizational design, allowing business to speed up the flow of new ideas, products and services. Innovation no longer just comes from internal activities. Ideas can come from anywhere - suppliers, customers, universities and even government. So enterprises must proactively build networks of internal and external resources, with dynamic structures, common customer language and data exchange that drives the way the organisation innovates.
A "brand paradigm" is the best way to conceptualise this modern, customer centric business. By brand, I mean the totality of what a brand is - its customer base, products, services, image, communication, customer feedback and social network presence.
Increasingly, customer interactions are moving from "push" as default to "pull". Instead of businesses "pushing" services and products at customers, the individual can now discriminate and "pull" services to them - to suit their exact needs, preferences and timing.
The social environment is increasingly defining what a brand is, as viewed and engaged with by its various and disparate user groups and other stakeholders. No longer does the brand owner pre-ordain "the truth".
Technology, the web, and Big Data are thus driving transparency - both ways. Today's technology allows customers to both understand what they are doing (and buying) and communicate (positively and negatively) about brands and companies in real time. Individuals view recommendations from other customers, access products, services, resources and media that they need, and then optimize for themselves how and when it is all delivered and how it is subsequently used.
In these terms, "brand" doesn't just mean consumer products - it refers to whole companies. They are seen and act as brands in their own right.
"Customer Leadership" combines these ideas. Big Data analytics and insight drives leadership, organization and branding decisions and actions, all aimed to improve customer products, services, experience, satisfaction and loyalty.
Bill Bernbach was born on the 3rd of August 1911 to Rebecca and Jacob Bernbach in The Bronx, New York City. He attended public school in New York before earning his Bachelors degree in English from New York University in 1932. While there he also studied music, philosophy, and business administration.
The following year Bernbach started working in the Schenley Distillers mailroom. It was while working there that he wrote his first ad for the brand's American Cream Whiskey, somehow managing to get it in front of the right people. The ad ran and Bernbach was promoted into the advertising department.
In 1938, Bernbach married Evelyn Carbone, a receptionist whom he had met while he worked in the mailroom and she was attending Hunter College. Despite his family's religious objections to the match, they remained together until his death, and together had two sons, John and Paul.
He left the Schenley corporation in 1939, instead spending some time ghostwriting for Grover Whalden then the head of the 1939 World's Fair. But by the following year he had returned to advertising, this time at the William H. Weintraub agency.
Bernbach served in the US Army for a time during World War II. When he got back to the States he was hired by Coty Incorporated before finding his way to Grey Advertising where his flair quickly led him up the ranks to vice-president and creative director, a post he received in 1947.
He was, however, frustrated with the monotony of advertising, openly criticizing the industry's stifled creativity. In a letter to the agency's managing team, Bernbach bemoaned that whilst advertising was filled with great technicians "advertising is fundamentally a persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art."
On June 1st 1949, joined by Ned Doyle whom he had worked with at Grey and Maxwell Dane, already the manager of a small agency, Bernbach founded Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency in Manhattan. Their goal was to show that good taste, good art, and good writing could also make for good selling.
Bernbach immediately took firm control over the writing side of their work, choosing to distance himself from the more administrative or promotional components to focus on the creative angle.
He was the mind behind iconic ad campaigns like those for Volkswagen including 'Think Small' and 'Lemon.' Bernbach combined imaginative, offbeat thinking with his hallmark simplicity and has been heralded as one of the driving forces behind the creative revolution of the 60s and 70s. Some also credit Bernbach with being the first to move copywriters and art directors out of separate departments and into collaborative teams - a commonplace model in modern advertising.
By the time he retired the agency had increased billings from roughly $1 million to over $40 million a year. When he stepped aside as CEO in 1976, DDB had grown to be the 11th largest advertising agency in America.
He won many awards during his career including being inducted into the Copywriters Hall of Fame in 1964, winning The Man of the Year Advertising Award in both '64 and '65, and gaining an American Academy of Achievement Award in 1976.
Recently, Bernbach has become a bit of a mainstream pop culture reference. He is widely mentioned in the popular television show Mad Men, where his unfettered thinking challenges the show's more orthodox agency's style.
On October 2nd 1982, Bernbach lost his battle with leukaemia at the age of 71.
He was and remains a leader for those within the advertising community and wider communications fields. Bernbach is famous for his wonderfully astute quotes and his strong sense of the communications industry as an influential force in society with an obligation to make things better through that platform.
Bernbach believed that, "all of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level."