By John Lawrence
We asked marketing executives who attended CMO Smart back in June 2107 to share some of their key takeaways with us. Here’s what Doug Davila, Senior Vice President Agency Strategy and Development at CBD Marketing, and Randy Wagner, Former Global Chief Marketing Officer of Orbitz and current owner of Trans4mation, Inc., told us.
Q: After attending CMO Smart, will you be reexamining your business strategy to better manage the speed of change?
Doug Davila: Coming away from CMO Smart, I see the need to keep everyone who is client-facing more up to date on market changes—it’s not a question of what but of how often do we introduce new things and then reinforce these learnings so that our teams, including junior-level people, can have substantive conversations about what’s new and how it might benefit the client. Sometimes these conversations in between the big meetings can be very beneficial.
Randy Wagner: I’ve effectively been working on strategic change initiatives for my entire career. Whether they’ve been labeled that – or usually: not (often, for reasons above!) What I’ve learned is most important is pretty simple to say, but hard to do: Figure out what’s important. With the deluge of change arriving daily, what’s really most relevant? FOCUS is the challenge for everyone in rapidly changing markets – particularly the C-suite. But it’s a continual process.
Q: The title for this event was “Managing at the Speed of Change.” But let’s be honest, people don’t like change. Matt Gonterman, one of our panelists from JLL, said that managers must be prepared for employees to question and challenge change. What’s the number one thing that you’ll take away from CMO Smart about managing and implementing change across your organization?
Randy Wagner: People will ask questions whether you serve up ‘change’ or ‘evolving’. You should hope they do! That’s an opportunity for engagement. It’s also an opportunity for marketing leadership, since our job is creating answers for internal as well as external audiences. Actually, I’ve found pro-active answering, even before questions get asked, can be the best way to engage everyone in any organization in strategic execution, which only helps achieving goals. The change that will impact your business is already happening somewhere! The key is being vigilant. Not as part of some separate initiative, but as part of your ongoing, collaborative work process.
Doug Davila: Honest communications. People can be jaded about change, especially when they don’t fully understand the organizational benefit. If change is truly going to take hold internally, you have to show your people the benefits, and incentivize them to accept the change. We’ve seen too many cases of change, or acquisitions not going well because of poor communications and no demonstration of true benefits to those who are not senior managers. A change that only benefits the C-suite and investors is not one that the rest of the organization can get behind.
John Lawrence is a marketing specialist at DeMarche Associates, an institutional investment consulting firm. He recently completed his MBA at Loyola University of Chicago. Marketing is actually his second career. John is a former journalist and television news producer. In addition to volunteering for the AMA, John is a member of the community advisory council for The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.