December 30, 2012

Process is Not a Dirty Word


I am unabashedly a Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog fan and a recent HBR blog post from Sarah Green called Making Process Planning Cool Again really struck a chord.

As Green mentions, just the simple utterance of the word 'process' tends to elicit shudders of horror from Millenials and paints the speaker as an out of touch, anal retentive school-marmish librarian -- ouch!

While Green's post focuses on the work of the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) - a non-profit within the auto company, process isn't just beneficial for manufacturing.  It's also necessary for effective marketing.

As any marketing leader will tell you, it's the execution of that amazing, integrated marketing strategy that moves your business metrics! And that execution means keeping many different balls in the air - from brand management, to search keyword optimization, to banner and/or print creative development, to social media posts, to media planning, to event planning, to promotions, to website A/B testing, to metric dashboard development - and the list goes on and on.

Each ball with its own discipline, specializations, tools, strengths and weaknesses.  Each element needing to pull its weight driving cost effective awareness, adoption, trial, purchase and retention while also consistently reinforcing the brand and addressing customer needs and pain points. If this juggling act doesn't scream for process, I do not know what does.

Here's why I believe process is cool. It's because for my marketing teams, process doesn't constrain, it liberates.  Process allows the blocking and tackling of coordination and optimization to be part of the "routine" -- daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly -- thus allowing us the mental freedom to invest time/energy in exploring new ideas and new tests.  It is the fact that there is a process that allows us to be creative and out of the box while also not dropping any of the many balls in the air.

So, to 'borrow' a sentiment from A Few Good Men (let's say it together with your best Nicholson impression), "somewhere, deep down inside in a place you don't talk about at parties, you want a good process, you need a good process!"