The Digital Re-Org -- Agent of Cultural Change

As digital marketing takes on many more forms than ever before, the multiple-tentacled beast requires an organization alignment that most marketers are just beginning to recognize -- the hard way.                  

The days of traditional and digital marketing being managed in parallel should be behind us. However, in reality it is difficult for marketers to adopt a truly integrated and consumer-centric structure because the existing silos in place within most organizations are restrictive.

A small number of marketers have already begun to embark upon a true transformation, recognizing that the status quo stifles innovation, de-motivates and underutilizes talented human resources, and stagnates progress.



So what's an ambitious marketer to do?

Perform an audit: Determine where gaps in digital resources or duplication of efforts exist across divisions. Identify inefficiencies in process, communication, collaboration, or stakeholder support. Analyze how cross-functional roles interact with one another to achieve common goals. In most organizations this would primarily include marketing, sales/ecommerce, PR, CRM, IT, customer service, analytics, and consumer insights. Of course every company has a unique structure that may require other relevant groups, including supply chain, HR and operations. Unless you are thoroughly confident that you have an experienced and objective internal resource to handle your audit, you may want to hire a consultant to do so.

Re-org for success: Most marketers operate in silos that are not able to seamlessly incorporate today's digital reality into the organization. Digital capabilities must be woven into the fabric of a company's structure. Sticking an extra box or two on the org chart is no longer a valid solution. Executive leadership must not be afraid to re-org several departments to accommodate distributed digital resources. Granted, re-orgs can be disruptive, but they don't need to be, particularly when you are realigning for the evolving world around us. P.S.: Embrace the dotted line!

Determine the cultural challenges: "That's not how things work around here" is a dangerous, albeit common, mindset. It reeks of a comfort level that today's adaptive business climate cannot support and will lead to eventual failure. But it is also indicates a cultural issue that needs to be addressed. Digital is a mindset, a philosophy -- some may even say a culture in and of itself. But I argue that digital is more of an agent of change. The characteristics of a consumer-centric, iterative, accountable, fast-paced, and data-driven culture may have been motivated by the digital shift over the last decade, but it is becoming the new normal that transcends digital.

Develop cross-functional collaboration plans: Collaboration doesn't just happen. Someone must own the responsibility for championing and fostering collaboration between individuals and teams who may otherwise consider the process additional work that is not part of their job description or performance review. Working from the top down, management needs to incent collaboration by including it as a formal part of performance evaluations.

There's a fine balance between drowning in extra meetings that prevent individuals from getting any work done and creating collaborative productivity. Be sure to include workflow tools and a centralized knowledge base or collaboration platform as part of your plan to foster productive cross-functional collaboration.

You'll need to find a comfortable middle ground of collaborative effort that works for your company. Besides, what do you have to lose? The status quo alternative is already ripe with inefficiencies. Expect to make some mistakes, learn as you go, and iterate the process as time goes on.  There is no one-size-fits-all magic formula.

Has your company truly re-org'd for digital success? Frustrated that your company's culture has been resistant to change? Share your stories in the comments or hit me on Twitter @jasonheller.



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