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.

Screw it, Let’s Do it!

Congratulations, you secured your executive support, but now what? It’s time to get started and the only drawback about securing executive support is now you have to deliver. So here are a few things that Executive support provides but the rest will be up to you and the next steps you take to build our your team. Executive support will provide funding, resources and cover for obstacles you may run into but they won’t blindly offer up these things without a solid plan, leadership and vision.

This can be as easy as just asking your team and peers. “What needs to be done first?” In many cases I have found that platforms are badly neglected due to funding cuts and or lack of a plan. So, the first thing you can do to build your foundation to modernize your customer engagement platform. And no I am not talking about Facebook or Twitter as your platform for customer engagement. You need to have a forum where customers can connect directly with the engineers that are either building or supporting the product. These are highly technical individuals that you will need to recruit to help support program efforts moving forward and something I will discuss later on how to build stakeholder support and a strategy to get started.

 

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.

 

5 Things a Digital Agency Can’t Do

I have the opportunity to work with quite a few digital marketing/creative design agencies over the years, some good and others not so much. Agencies are good with coming up with creative ideas, provide design concepts and proving an extension of your team but there some things they just can’t do.

Executive Support

An agency can’t help you get support from the executive team that can help secure funding and remove obstacles. They can pull together a pretty creative pitch but ultimately you need to be the one to pull together the support and be able to clearly communicate to the executive the strategy, the objective and impact. Getting executive support will ultimately lead to your success or failure.

Funding

An agency can pull together some elaborate plans but if you don’t have funding then what is the point. I have found over the years if you don’t pull together the strategy and help guide the agency you may end up with a plan that can’t be delivered. Funding for a project depends on your ability to be able to communicate that impact to the executive team if not present the ROI. In the case of rolling out an internal social intranet there wasn’t an ROI as much as the impact of transparent communication and collaboration was huge.

IT Resources and Infrastructure

Again, if you don’t help lay some reasonable expectations for an agency you may find yourself in a situation where you have great plans but no one to implement the infrastructure required. Building a cross collaboration team that includes your IT team, HR and keeping finance included will help improve your ability to deliver.

Communication

An agency will typically provide a project manager and can assist with team project updates but not overall executive or divisional communications. When you are building your team it will be important to keep your stakeholders close and well informed. You may need one or two team members that share this responsibility to ensure stakeholders are aware of the plan, status and more importantly how it benefits them. This will be critical to keeping objections and obstacles to a minimum. It also helps build a grassroots internal marketing awareness campaign through word of mouth and water cooler gossip.

Obstacles

With any project and more specifically when implementing disruptive marketing programs you will have obstacles. Besides the typical, finance, contracts, legal obstacles there is sure to be political obstacles that someone will raise. Politics usually arise when people who aren’t stakeholders, aren’t informed, aren’t educated but may be impacted by the project process. Keeping good transparent communication and some personal attention will help keep the team moving along.

One of the tactics I have used is keeping all project details open to the public so anyone can see what is occurring at anytime. It helps to have a communicate collaboration platform like Jive Software where you can post, manage and keep the team updated with a single portal.

Agencies can add value to any project but there ultimately needs to be a leader of the overall program to address and manage the above items that they can’t. And that leader is you.

I’ll be sharing more details about these topics at the Argyle Customer Care Executive Forum NYC Nov 5th. If you are interested in hearing more register via the link and I’ll see you there.

Executive Leadership Is Critical For Success

About a year ago I started outlining a book on community collaboration and digital marketing strategies. I started covering all the basics, SEO, content publishing, advocacy, social media and engagement etiquette. And I realized toward the end that most of my success implementing these strategies for companies was due to executive leadership. Any project starts with leadership to help get the support you need from executive sponsors to improve your teams chances at success. This may be the most important aspect of any rolling out any marketing engagement program for three reasons: Obtaining funding, removing obstacles, and team motivation.

First of all if you don’t have funding you don’t have a project. Securing commitment for funding reassures the team that there is support for there efforts. It provides the resources, new hires, products needed to get the ball rolling. Funding is also one of the bigger obstacles that will need to be addressed immediately but not the same as other obstacles you will face when rolling out a disruptive technology.

The other types of obstacles I am referring to are political. You would be surprised how many internally and externally want a voice but don’t want to help. You will find between finance, HR, global security, legal, IT… etc… there will be no shortage of departments that will want to slow things down by asking questions, throwing up barriers and all around objection to change. No one likes change but it is necessary if you want to evolve and survive in this new modern world of customer engagement. Getting a good representation of executives will help eliminate all these issues as you will have a trump card that you can call their bluff when threats of escalation. Recently when our team implemented a social intranet we had the CMO, SVP of HR and CTO as executive sponsors. This won’t prevent threats or obstacles from being presented but will give you the confidence that it won’t go any further and the project will continue moving forward with the strategy you have set forward.

And this helps team motivation. All any employee wants is to be able to complete their task and have success. Keeping a team motivated is really just this simple. If you, as the strategic leader, can secure the executive support to help remove obstacles and lay a foundation for the teams success that is all the motivation they will need. It is just the belief that success is possible and the team can do the work that they have been tasked with.

These are just three reasons why executive support and leadership is important but realize that this doesn’t explain how to get an executives attention, tactics that can be used to eliminate escalations and keep the team focused on the end result. I think I just came up with three new chapters. Stay tuned and I’ll try to put some of these down in future posts.