New ideas, clever approaches and important reminders always jump off the page during my business reading, especially those that might apply to challenges I’m facing or will likely face again.
I’d like to share six management and marketing ideas that stood out to me recently, along with an “action step thought starter” for each one.
Let’s begin with four management and leadership ideas from Facebook (thanks to Miguel Helft and Jessi Hempel, for their insider profile in Fortune).
1. Get New Employees Contributing Fast
Do you have an introduction plan for new employees? When I joined Tate & Lyle, my boss created a great induction program for me (hey - British company, British word), which I then adopted and built-on for the people I hired.
Facebook has Bootcamp, which is a six-week program originally designed for engineers. Here’s what I think is cool and powerfully effective. Apparently, it’s common that a new engineer will have six emails waiting when he turns on his computer. Beyond the welcome message are five tasks to be accomplished, including website fixes. The thinking behind this approach is to quickly demonstrate that the new employee has power to make things happen (in this case, website changes); and to encourage independence and creativity.
Action Step Thought Starter: Whether you use emails or a written plan of attack, how can you position your new team members to hit the ground running, and at the same time, reinforce your key cultural and/or operating principles?
2. Keep Your Door Open
Remember office hours from your university days? Mark Zuckerberg apparently applies the practice at Facebook. Even interns can stop by to share projects.
So, if you want to foster greater interaction with your team and manage your time effectively, this idea may be for you.
Action Step Thought Starter: I prefer a simple open-door approach, but if you’re concerned about being overwhelmed by visitors, set aside specific hours during the week. And remember, you get to (and need to) visit colleagues as well.
3. Talk is Cheap – Get Started Already!
“Mock-ups are favored over conversation” and “code wins arguments” at Facebook. It means trying to bring an idea to life with a prototype or otherwise kick-start the discussion and persuasion process as opposed to a PowerPoint chart. Great stuff.
Action Step Thought Starter: Sometimes you need to start working and get down the road first to sell your idea.
4. Keep Your Team Fresh
“Every year or 18 months engineers are required to leave their teams to work on something different for at least a month.”
Action Step Thought Starter: I realize this is hard to implement, but where and when possible, rotate personnel or give them special projects so they can get exposure to new challenges, new customers and new opportunities. It’s an effective way to keep key players rejuvenated and pumped-up.
Let’s continue with two marketing ideas I liked from Lululemon (culled from Dana Mattioli’s recent article in The Wall Street Journal).
5. Real-Time Customer Feedback
Lululemon puts chalkboards near fitting rooms to capture on-the-spot input from customers, which are forwarded to corporate headquarters.
Action Step Thought Starter: What can you do at your company to create clever ways for customers to give you real, instant feedback?
6. Create a Purchase Sense of Urgency
Similar to Spanish retailer Zara, Lululemon works off short product stocking cycles to encourage shoppers to buy immediately. The company’s CEO, quoted in the WSJ article, remarked that “our guest knows that there’s a limited supply, and it creates these fanatical shoppers.”
Action Step Thought Starter: A “scarcity” strategy has to be applied carefully and probably doesn’t make sense in most situations, but the essence of the idea is something we should all try to duplicate. How can you create a relevant version of the retail “buy it now – it won’t be here later” mindset to speed the customer purchase decision-making cycle?
Never stop learning and getting better!
Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success. Contact him at hchimoff at gmail dot com.