How to Create a Steering Committee

Steerting CommitteeThe goal of having a steering committee is a few things. Typically, they are comprised of each departments representatives, IT, Business, Digital Marketing, HR, Communications, Operations, etc.. and are responsible for reviewing the prioritized backlog list and determining the priorities for the sprint releases. Identifying members fore the steering committee is something your executive team will be able to provide guidance on as well if not have suggestions. This is also where requests from stakeholders can be submitted by the representatives and reviewed where it fits in the overall list of items. This takes the burden of responsibility off of you and your team of being the sole decision maker. When someone complains that their request isn’t being address you can simply state that you will bring it up to the steering committee for consideration and it will be prioritized in order of importance as it relates to the greater project as a whole.

Keeping the meeting notes and results of these meetings public will also be important to your transparent communications. Because if someone does escalate that their request isn’t being addressed you can simply point that individual to the updates and keep this included as part of your monthly executive updates. This will keep you well ahead of any objection or obstacle you might encounter as the collaboration transformation starts to take shape.

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Securing Stakeholder Support with Transparent Communications

Don’t work in secret. Don’t hide or avoid tough conversations and make sure you get out in front of anything you could potentially see creating an obstacle for your team. Your primary responsibility will be to keep the path clear for those who are doing the heavy lifting and one tactic you can use is full transparency. Keeping communication lines open for everyone will help prevent the escalations and build a stronger stakeholder support team.

Lyndon B. Johnson once quoted about J. Edgar Hoover “ It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

Keeping your stakeholders close, well informed and engaged early an often will keep them from pissing inside your tent. There are a few tactics you can take to ensure this process is successful.

  • Create a steering committee that helps prioritize all requests and direction of the overall collaboration
  • Setup regular meeting cadences for updates to keep everyone aware of progress and ensure they have a platform for requests and feedback.
  • Keep entire project status, meeting notes, team members published publically so all can see. This will help you direct questions and allow individual to view for themselves.

Conflict Prevention via Transparent Communication

Opinions are like belly buttons, “Everyone Has One”. Word will get out about that you have executive sponsorship, funding and or a plan that may change how others will work and believe me there will be no shortages of opinions. You will find that many of the stakeholders, you need to work with will want to ensure their pet projects and or features get escalated to the top of your backlog list and will be one of many obstacles your team will face. There is a delicate balance on how to handle to help manage these obstacles but don’t get frustrated if one of the stakeholders escalates to their executives. You can’t stop that and actually, it makes that person look unprofessional that they aren’t able to work with you and in all reality the executives don’t want to hear it. The executive team will have an expectation of you that you are engaging that person and will resolve without their involvement. As a team leader they expect that you will come to the table with solutions and updates not conflicts and issues. Learn this fast otherwise you could see yourself replaced if things can’t be resolved. So, you know there will be opinions and escalations that will happen so how can you address it. Lesson number one, Transparent Communications!

How to Build a Collaboration Marketing Team

As you went through the process of building out your strategic marketing plan you probably encountered many who were interested and some who weren’t in discussions you had. There will be no shortage of those who want to be involved and allowing everyone on the team will just create obstacles down the road, so select your leadership carefully that will help keep those engaged, informed and managed as needed. Ask yourself; do you have the leadership you need? Someone that can work across multiple departments, be diplomatic in resolving conflict and be able to keep everyone motivated to deliver. Some of the best teams I have led have included someone from IT that can help communicate to the developers the business need; a business leader that manages the customer expectations and a stakeholder/communication manager that can help provide updates on status to the stakeholders and feed in any new requirements requests. Then having a good project manager that will hold people accountable for deliverables as well as pull meetings together to keep the teams informed and working together. This is a good start to building the foundation of your team.

Next post I’ll discuss managing those who aren’t on the team but believe you should be taking direction from them with transparent communication.

3 Objectives for Collaboration Marketing

Before you start anything, priority #1 has to be clearly defining your objectives. This will help you and your teams accomplish several things. First, everyone should be able to clearly communicate and agree upon the objectives set. This will help prevent conflicting priorities as well as help you engage your stakeholders as you will need them to help drive success. Second, keeping the objectives simple but achievable will allow you to execute and make progress. It is that progress that will help you with the third item and that is securing executive support. All three will be important as you start transforming the way you communicate and collaborate with your customers and employees.

3 Collaboration Marketing Objectives

This is the third company I have had the opportunity to drive this type of initiative and while each need is a bit different you can easily get started with the three items below.

Modernize Your Customer Platform

Do you have a platform that your customers can easily engage? And no, email and survey’s aren’t one of those platforms. Customers need the ability to provide feedback as well as share inquiries and knowledge with each other. This typically isn’t done through your website which are often one dimensional and while social provides some of the capability it isn’t often tied together to provide a complete customer experience. A good place to start is evaluating all the ways in which your customers can current engage and pulling together a strategy that will unify your customers search interest, support interest and product feedback.

Transform Traditional Customer Engagement 

If you are like me I delete more email than I read. So, take a look at all your current engagement program s and determine if they are effective and really providing your customers the experience they expect. Considering most of us live and die via our mobile experience, do you have the ability to engage your customers where they expect you to have a presence? One place to start is to look at your traditional engagement, email, phone, webcasts and see how to transform into a more virtual and digital experience. Some of this will be achieved via transparent communication and publishing content that is easily discoverable. Why pull together a webcast that is email invite only when you can make it open to all at a time that is convenient for them to view. Granted I do realize the importance of lead generation and measuring touch point but times are changing and consumers expect to be able to find anything and everything online without filling out a registration form. Ultimately, this will be the first step that will lead to building an advocacy program.

Customer Advocacy and Share of Voice

Another transformation is adopting a new way to engage your customers and treat them similar to they way you engage your market analysts. I think you will find that most of your advocate customers are under the same NDA that your analysts have signed so why not share the same information. This will help establish a level of trust with your advocates and provide them the opportunity to be thought leaders in their own professional career. As good as we are at selling and marketing most consumers don’t want to talk to us. They want to talk with other customers, share experience and come to their own purchasing decision. So, why not embrace this and help support that decision process journey by empowering those we respect the most with the information they seek. This will help identify those who should be considered advocates and allow you to frame a program for engagement around these individuals and help contribute to their success. Advocacy is as much about your customers as it is about your brand. And with a measured balance both can be achieved to create an authentic share of voice that will rattle your competition.