Last night there was a conversation going on on Twitter about how measurabiliy is key to good communications. I didn't totally agree.. I think defining a clear measurable goal is more "key" than just measurability, which elicited this wonderful quote from John Haydon :
"GPS is only useful if you have a destination"
Which got me thinking about my typical shopping day. The desired outcome is that I want my cat to shut up and stop howling, which means that I need to buy cat food. There are at least half a dozen places I can go. For example:
- I can support my local community and go to Durham Marketplace, which means I'll pay more and I’ll only get a small bag which means my cat will be screaming again in a week.
- I could go to BJs or Walmart and pay less, but going there is the shopping equivalent of having a root canal, poison ivy and a migraine all at the same time.
- Trader Joes offers the prospect of seeing friends and buying great wine, and but my cat hates their cat food.
- Going to Target is out of the way, but I can get a Starbucks there.
- I could go to MarketBasket but traffic to Barrington is awful
As you might imagine, there are a bunch of decisions that need to be made before I can even think about programming my GPS. Do I want to spend as little as possible? Shop local? Get this errand over with as quickly as possible? What are my priorities?
Which is exactly the challenge many of you are facing. Like me, you want to stop “the cat” from howling. The cat might be the client, the boss, the board or the CEO, but chances are pretty good these days that he or she is howling for results from their investment in social media.
At first you just grab some metrics and throw them at him/or her.. and surprise, the howling continues. That’s because the goal was never really “increase the number of likes and followers.”
In the top cat’s mind, the desired "results" are almost always "ROI" "Sales" or "Revenue" -- because of course that is what everything in business is supposed to produce, right?
“Everything” except the furnishings in the CEO's office, the plants in the lobby, the underwriting of the CEO’s favorite symphony or race car etc etc.
So the goal is not always short term ROI or revenue. For many things, including CSR, PR, Social Media or the plant lady, the return is long term, as measured by lower recruitment costs, higher retention, lower legal costs and a host of other cost savings.
Which means that to stop the howling, you need agreed-upon interim definitions of success to know if you at least moving in the right direction. The problem is getting everyone to agree on “the destination” – those specific goals that define success.
In my experience if you put a sales guy, a production guy, a marketing guy and a finance guy in the same room they’ll be delighted to give you four completely different definitions of value and/or success.
Your challenge is to figure out how to get everyone to on the same page about exactly what in the same room and reach consensus. My preference is always to put them in a room with sufficient lobsters dessert and wine and put a good strong lock on the door. But since that doesn’t always fly in a corporate environment, an interactive workshop might be a preferable alternative.
Here are some tips to reach consensus and start programming your corporate GPS.
- Think of all the people who might at some point be looking at your measurement reports. Invite all of them. You want both senior people as well as anyone who might use the report.
- Interview them about two weeks prior to the meeting. Find out how they define success, both individually and for their business unit or department. Find out what they see as a benchmark, what keeps them up at night, what they expect from social media or PR.
- For the meeting itself, allow at least three hours, four would be ideal. Make sure you have a way to record the conversation i.e. flip charts, markers, tape etc. Lay in a good supply of food and coffee.
- Start with a basic overview of the measurement process
- Ask them for their “Kick Butt Moment” -- when their boss grabs them and says “damn it Fred, we’re getting our butts kicked” or “congratulations Fred, you’re really kicking butt” -- what does that mean?
- Ask for their “champagne moments” -- if your bosses boss walks into your office, plunks a case of champagne on your desk, says she’s giving you a 10% raise and an extra week off – what is different in your organization.
- Then get everyone to vote --- with hands, colored dots or polling -- -on what the most important, significant and relevant Champagne moments are.
- Brainstorm on what the benchmarks should be
- Brainstorm on what the right metrics should be to make sure you achieve the champagne moments.
- Draw out a sample dashboard – list the metrics, the benchmarks, the time frame everything.
- Make sure everyone agrees that if they saw a report with those metrics on it, they’d be willing to pay attention to it.
- Make a list of next steps, assign responsibiltly for each of them, say goodbye and make sure you follow up within 10 days to make sure the “todos” are getting done.
Now, you're ready to program your GPS and start moving more effectively and efficiently towards the destination.