Just Do it!

As a follow up and conclusion to Decembers post “How to Secure Executive Support“; The third thing you can do to establish executive support is take the resources and funding you have and begin to make incremental progress toward your objectives.

At The End of The Day, All that matters is: Can you deliver? I have run into several challenges over my career from jealous territorial co-workers, political positioning and the only advice I can provide is to persevere because at the end of the day all the matters is who can deliver.

Every time I have been asked to build out a team it is usually because there are no funds, no strategy, and resources that may not be motivated or appropriately aligned. One time I came into a position and found myself sitting across a table with two senior professionals and an overworked IT manager discussing in excruciating detail the most minor of issues for 90 minutes. I could tell from the look on their faces that they had been beaten down, had no direction and exhausted from not being able to get anywhere. At the end of that meeting I just looked at them and said. “At the end of the day. ”It doesn’t matter how big our team is, how much money we have or how important our jobs are to this company.” “The only thing anyone cares about is if you can get shit done.” If you can’t deliver then nothing else matters. Plus starting in a new role, I wanted to have fun. “And the way that I have fun is feeling a sense of accomplishment by getting shit done.”

I didn’t realize what impact that statement had on these people at the time but months later I found they had adopted the phrase “Get Shit Done” and would often repeat it back to me as if it were a proud war cry. It even go abbreviated to the point where we would just say “GSD” and get to work.

What we did next was put together some plans of items we thought were needed and then started executing against those plans to deliver. Rather than having endless debates about a column widget wasn’t formatting with a particular font we stepped back and focused our energies on upgrading the entire platform that resolved over 2000 bugs and provided additional features that were more valuable than that one widget.

Six months with $132,000 later we upgraded the community platform, fixed over 2000 bugs, implemented a totally new design with new navigation and dozens of new features. Our little team of three had done more in six months than had been done in the previous four years combined. And it was all because they believed they could. It was disruptive, it wasn’t without battles but it got attention that I hadn’t originally expected. I now had teams with budgets in the millions and dozens of resourced coming to me and asking how we got so much done with so little. I still don’t know the answer but I think it was because we were having fun. And because we were being successful at completing things it just gave us more motivation to keep going and do more.

The next year we had to continue to fight even though our little teams success had gotten the attention of the entire executive team. But we still didn’t have a budget and or any additional investment to keep up with our plans. With the help of my VP, we just keep pushing and pulled together an roadmap and investment plan that we thought would get us started. It took about 10 months of persistence but we finally got what we asked for and more.

The next year our little team of 3 with a $150K budget exploded to an international team of 10 with a $5.6M investment. I like to think we were the little engine that could. And it was all because we “Got Shit Done” and continued to do so.

 

Show Me the Money

There is a good chance that a compelling story won’t be enough to get you everything you need and if you have the data then you should be able to pull together the value of community engagement in order to establish a base line of opportunity. If you don’t have that don’t let it stop you! Getting funding for social business initiatives is never easy and until you can associate revenue to your initiative it is very hard to secure incremental investment to further your programs. Linking your social engagement activity to booked revenue in order to come up with a measurable ROI and justification is the best way to get the attention needed to have a funding conversation.

Welcome to the wonderful world of big data analytics. You don’t have to be a data scientist but knowing statistical information to back up your engagement strategy will work toward your advantage to secure executive support and funding.

In order to make this ROI association my team went through the exercise of pulling new community registrants for a given year then matched them to booked revenue over that same period.

 

“This information can be pulled from a users profile and or email domain extension in order to associate the user to their respective company. However, there will be a need to clean up the data excluding personal email domains like gmail and yahoo.”

 

Once this list is compiled, the average purchase price of those companies who had members in the community can be compared to those companies who did not have members. The data in this example concluded that customers with members in a community had an average purchase price 240% higher than those customers who were not engaged in the community.

This was all I needed to get the attention I needed and it wasn’t even the most compelling statistic. What we further determined was if we could increase the number of companies engaging in the community by just 1% we could increase revenue by $12M. But considering there were over 12,000 companies listed as customers that growth opportunity had the potential to be upwards of 2500%. Now we were talking Billions and those types of numbers catch executive’s attention.

 

Create And Tell a Compelling Story

There are a few tactical steps you can take to begin to secure the executive support you need. You first need to be able to tell a compelling story. The fact that you have already established your top 3 objectives will help you frame out that discussion. These objectives are the foundation of your strategy so you should be able to clearly communicate your strategy, goals and ultimately the value it will drive to the company. Don’t confuse “Value” with revenue. Executives love to see bottom line ROI but they will also see the qualitative value of building an army of brand advocates.

This is where being able to tell a compelling story will help you get the attention of not just executives but your management, stakeholders from other departments and those on your team. There are a few things that will help you during this process. First you need to have just enough confidence and passion that it isn’t perceived as arrogance. It’s a fine balance but your confidence and passion for what you believe will contribute to the interest in your story.

In addition to this taking our objectives and building a roadmap strategy will help paint the vision of where you want to go. Executives have limited time and may not see the light at the end of the tunnel so you should present this right up front right after your state your objectives and within the first five to seven minutes of your presentation.

Think of it as painting a picture. I have always loved Monet paintings but if you stand too close all you see are millions of little dots. Help your executives stand back so they can see the full picture and keep your team up front to worry about painting the little dots. As a leader you will need to be able to do both. You need to convey to the executives that you are the person that can stand back and see the whole picture while being able to direct your team to ensure the tactical and strategy come together..

 

How To Secure Executive Support and Commitment

Much of your success and or progress will be dependent on the level of executive support you have for your strategy. If you are reading this then you are likely in the same position I was many times where I had a directive but limited resources and budget to execute. Executive sponsorship will provide three items that will be critical to your success but you may not have it in the beginning. Executives will help find funding for the project, will help prioritize resources to build your team and most importantly provide air cover from all the noise and politics you may run into. And believe me you will run into many obstacles along the way and ironically it will be from the same people who you need to work with to ensure the companies success.

Here are three items you can start with to help secure the level of executive commitment you require.

  1. Create and Tell a Compelling Story
  2. Show The Value with Statistical Data and ROI
  3. Just Do it! Get started and make progress

Being able to do all three will certainly get you the attention you need but isn’t necessary. Evaluate what you have and start with what you can do. Keep it simple and keep working toward completing all three. It may take 6, 12, or even 18 months to secure the executive level of commitment you desire so persistence and dedication will be instrumental in keeping you moving forward.

 

At The End Of The Day:

All that matters is: Can you deliver? I have run into several challenges over my career from jealous territorial co-workers, political positioning and the only advice I can provide is to persevere because at the end of the day all the matters is who can deliver.

Every time I have been asked to build out a team it is usually because there are no funds, no strategy, and resources that may not be motivated or appropriately aligned. One time I came into a position and found myself sitting across a table with two senior professionals and an overworked IT manager discussing in excruciating detail the most minor of issues for 90 minutes. I could tell from the look on their faces that they had been beaten down, had no direction and exhausted from not being able to get anywhere. At the end of that meeting I just looked at them and said. “At the end of the day. ”It doesn’t matter how big our team is, how much money we have or how important our jobs are to this company.” “The only thing anyone cares about is if you can get shit done.” If you can’t deliver then nothing else matters. Plus starting in a new role, I wanted to have fun. “And the way that I have fun is feeling a sense of accomplishment by getting shit done.”

I didn’t realize what impact that statement had on these people at the time but months later I found they had adopted the phrase “Get Shit Done” and would often repeat it back to me as if it were a proud war cry. It even go abbreviated to the point where we would just say “GSD” and get to work.

What we did next was put together some plans of items we thought were needed and then started executing against those plans to deliver. Rather than having endless debates about a column widget wasn’t formatting with a particular font we stepped back and focused our energies on upgrading the entire platform that resolved over 2000 bugs and provided additional features that were more valuable than that one widget.

Six months with $132,000 later we upgraded the community platform, fixed over 2000 bugs, implemented a totally new design with new navigation and dozens of new features. Our little team of three had done more in six months than had been done in the previous four years combined. And it was all because they believed they could. It was disruptive, it wasn’t without battles but it got attention that I hadn’t originally expected. I now had teams with budgets in the millions and dozens of resourced coming to me and asking how we got so much done with so little. I still don’t know the answer but I think it was because we were having fun. And because we were being successful at completing things it just gave us more motivation to keep going and do more.

The next year we had to continue to fight even though our little teams success had gotten the attention of the entire executive team. But we still didn’t have a budget and or any additional investment to keep up with our plans. With the help of my VP, we just keep pushing and pulled together an roadmap and investment plan that we thought would get us started. It took about 10 months of persistence but we finally got what we asked for and more.

The next year our little team of 3 with a $150K budget exploded to an international team of 10 with a $5.6M investment. I like to think we were the little engine that could. And it was all because we “Got Shit Done” and continue to do so today.