Monday, May 30, 2011

The Upside to Group Juggling

It's a fast pace in the typical business-to-business marketing department.

New projects and fresh ideas for innovative programs can often fall between the cracks especially when the team is going a million miles a minute juggling regular, monthly marketing programs.

A complicating factor is when the team is large (8 plus people), with some team members working remotely or part time.

A recent HBR blog post entitled “The Secret to Ensuring Follow Through” offers a helpful look at how to help ensure follow-through in this kind of setting.

When a marketing team is juggling a million ideas, as noted in the post, “there is a higher risk of someone, somewhere, dropping a ball."

The post goes onto say:

“… there's another, more positive, side to group juggling: the more people juggling, the more likely someone, somewhere will be able to catch a ball that an otherwise busy, overwhelmed individual would have dropped.”

A New Mindset
The HBR blog author proposes a new tool and "culture" to help a big marketing team manage tasks -- nothing overly formal, but a new mindset and vocabulary as a style of communicating.   

The tool is essentially a list of 7 questions to work through as new projects are delegated.  It stems from a work known as “The Checklist Manifesto” by Dr. Atoll Gawande.

This approach is incredibly valuable for the projects so many of us in marketing manage as a team – keeping websites updated; special event management; direct marketing campaigns; online advertising; sales support; etc.

Here’s the list from HBR, modified here for a business-to-business marketing team.

The (Marketing) Handoff Checklist
  1. What do you understand the overall marketing goals of this project to be? (Lead generation?  Generating attendance at a sales event?  Gathering a certain number of attendees at an online webinar?)
  2. Do you have any issues or concerns with this idea that have not already been mentioned?
  3. What are the key next steps – creative, content development, project management, etc. -  and by when do you plan to accomplish them?
  4. What do you need from the team in order to be successful?
  5. Are there any key contingencies we should plan for now?
  6. When will we next check-in on progress/issues?
  7. Who else in the organization (Creative Team, Sales, HR, Admin?) needs to know our plans, and how will we communicate them?

Coordination Wanted
There is definitely an upside to group juggling. 

Indeed there’s a better chance of success when the team can work together to catch the ball that an overwhelmed individual might drop – but that effort takes coordination.  

Next time your marketing team juggles a new program or project, give the Handoff Checklist a try and let us know how it went.

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