Thought Leadership - Sharing insights

January 11, 2019

Are we being proactive?

Are we being proactive? Are we making enough long term decisions? What are your top 3 business priorities for January? How can the category management process be reduced?

No this is not a piece about personal effectiveness nor is it a prediction list. The question is aimed at those of us who return to work after the long Christmas break and ask “What’s next?”

This week I’ve had some great conversations with Directors, Category Controllers, Shopper Marketing Managers, Category Managers and Store Managers, buyers, trainers, home delivery drivers, researchers, brand teams and store teams to find out what they think needs to be done before the end of the month. Yep, it wasn’t scientific. It was random and not controlled.

All had one thing in common the desire to work faster, smarter and sharper.  Today everyone wants agile principles in their ‘every day’.

Despite the flaws of my survey sample, the answers to my questions fell into three distinct pots:

  • Stuff we all need to do day by day issues
  • Actions and feedback for my team and
  • Operational decisions.

In percentage terms my intuitive survey told me that:

  • 60 % of the people I spoke to were focussed on 1,
  • 30% focussed on 2 and
  • 10% focus on 3.

So what does that tell us?

On the surface that looks OK but I was left asking the question…Are we making enough long term decisions? If we stop planning for the future will everything we do, fall into the day to day? If so then we are just reacting to events and not looking for future growth proactively. At some point, if we stop investing in the future what will happen?

Let’s look at one of the business practices that we know and love, namely the category management cycle.

It’s the process that everyone recognises. It’s been around since the beginning of time. Some would say it’s slow and ponderous, requires a big team, is prohibitively expensive and is out of date before the ink is dry. Not surprisingly I disagree.

The category management cycle is still a viable process of delivering great ROI. If there is a drawback with the category management process, it is that has not adapted to today’s market conditions that still requires the same rigour.  The answer is obviously to do the same thing but this time faster, smarter and sharper.

This is where agile principle has a part to play. With Agile you can take an 18-month project shrink in time. This is straight out of the disruptors playbook. A small team empowered to own the outcome accelerates deployment and motivates the team to do more faster.

Larger organisations are adapting to this environment and are adopting the principle of agile to their operations. Silos are breaking down and face to face time is increasing and 2-week sprints replace endless meetings. Team leaders are becoming Scrum Masters and time to innovate is declining whilst speed to market is increasing.

So next week I going to look at all the plans I have for February, March and Quarter 2 to see how I can pull these plans forward. Who really needs to be involved in that BPP for 2019? Who in my team needs my help to grow. How can the team be more responsive to the business? How can the business help me? What can I do every Monday to help the business grow?

It goes further what are the 3 things can I do each day to clear the decks. What 3 things can I do each week to help the team? What one thing can I do each month to help the business grow?

My challenge is to ask my team to try this as well. Collaboration always wins at the end of the day.

I hope you have had a successful start in 2019.

Category Management, Corporate Sales Training, Sales and Marketing Training
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