Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finishing What You Start

What U.S. military and women’s soccer team can learn from savvy marketers. Hiring trends optimistic for digital media. Speed and innovation key.

For better or worse, it’s that time of year when vacations, out-of-office replies and steamy summer weather conspire to slow down the pace of business decision-making worldwide, even in the U.S. For most of us here at HB, it’s the most stressful time of year, because we worry we’re overlooking something or just plain not trying hard enough when the phone’s not ringing off the hook and frantic emails aren’t clogging our inboxes.

Other folks—the smart ones—take this opportunity to catch their breath and contemplate where their businesses are going, what could be going better and what could be done more efficiently.

Thanks to the ease of social media, online video and virtual events, our guess is that there have been a record number of new media initiatives started in both the corporate and not-for-profit world. But, rather than really analyzing what’s working and not-working well, most organizations just keep launching new initiatives to show they’re cool, up-to-speed and always in touch with their customers, clients and constituents. Of course, constant startup, without the discipline of mid-course corrections, much less finishing, will simply drain your energy, your resources and your organization’s patience and take you off your core mission. Either that, or a cynical CFO, VC or IT person asks to see some measure of return on resources expended. At that point, most innovators throw in the towel…or start something new.

Soccer, military and finishing

If you saw Sunday’s heartbreaking World Cup overtime loss by the U.S. women’s soccer team to Japan, you know what we mean. How many times did the commentators and even U.S. national team coach, Pia Sundhage use the term “finishing” or lack thereof? The U.S. kept blowing scoring chances throughout the scoreless first half and through much of the second half. Then every time they managed to bang one through the back of the net, the plucky Japanese squad would score the equalizer a few minutes later. When it came down to overtime penalty kicks, you could tell on the Americans’ faces they knew they would be toast.

We’ll keep our political views out of this forum, but, we can only sustain so much “nation-building” in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-torn regions around the globe at any given time. Without the resources and strategy to finish what we started, we’ll have nothing to show for all the lost lives and billions of wasted dollars across the globe….kind of like a website with lots of outdated “news”, and old links leading nowhere.

Upbeat hiring trends for digital media professionals

Ed Koller, Managing Partner of Howard-Sloan-Koller Group wrote to clients on Monday that “innovation” was the dominant word in business last year. “But know we know that innovation alone is no longer enough. Speed is the overarching mandated. Speed to market for products; speed to hire for talent.”

HSK says despite the gloomy job market nationwide, there is a “staggering volume of demand” for digital product development, content development, sales and marketing professionals. As New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman wrote last week, companies “are increasingly picky. They are all looking for the same kind of people —people who not only have the critical thinking skills to do the value-adding jobs that technology can’t, but also people who can invent, adapt and reinvent their jobs every day, in a market that changes faster than ever.”

Finishing what you start (video)

So if you’re an employee, manager or business owner, how do you make sure you and your teams are ready to really finish what they start? We recommend this video by best-selling author and futurist, Seth Godin who argues we don’t need people to be more creative. We need people to keep thrashing and have the courage to ship—when they say they’re going to ship.

WARNING: The vid’s about 18 minutes long. Don’t view it unless you have time to watch it all the way through and give it your undivided attention.


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