June 6, 2010

Editing a Monthly Topical Newsletter

This was part of a newsletter sent to clients on a monthly basis, discussing how an organization can sometimes discover internal “Misfits,” or clashes in how different parts of the organization work together. (See the Custom Software Development site to subscribe to The Misfit.)

Here is how the original was edited to produce the final version. (See the edited version following this example.)

* * * * * * *

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel . . . Go For The Whole Vehicle

It’s a common The scene. is a common one. Your mMarketing team has just come up with a great new promotional idea. It’s bound to turn around your slumping sales figures around, and bring in those next quarter numbers in where they should be.

The idea is really simple, but will require some help from the IT department. You need a special piece of automation to that will gather just the right info as transactions occur take place. Then you need an some analysis program (?) elements to help you ensure that targets have been met. And you want to track which of your marketing pieces produces what kind of response.

Aren’t You Glad To See Me?

This latest campaign is so great, you just can’t understand the IT’s response you receive when you deliver give them the details to IT. I mean, what is wrong with these people anyway? Are they just bred to be negative?

Despite the brilliance of your plan, you are immediately barraged with a spray of reasons why this latest “brilliant” idea is either too full of holes, cannot be done, or at least cannot be done in this century, let alone in such a the short time frame you’ve envisioned. To seal the argument, ice the cake, a collection of past failed marketing attempts is paraded out once again to seal the argument. This latest vision is just one more in an example of the endless stream of costly endeavors that have depleted limited IT resources that IT needsed for more pressing matters.

[Can the air escape from a balloon any faster than this? – see my Note] What’s to be done? Before you assume the answer is to call in the troops for yet one more battle between these traditional in-house[**] rivals, let’s see if we can turn how this experience into an opportunity to can identify another major cause of Technology Misfit within your organization. [** I took out “in house” partly because a lot of companies outsource their IT functions now; in this article, I guess you really are addressing in house IT depts, so maybe you’ll want it back in, though in this sentence I don’t think it affects the meaning very much to lose it. (That could be something you address in future articles: whether you are stuck with a Technology Misfit if your IT outsource just doesn’t do things that dovetail entirely with how your company does things; and what if you can’t find an IT outsource that does? Are you really stuck?)]

That Coin Has Two Sides

First, To start with, it’s important to understand that such this kind of posturing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Usually there are valid reasons on both sides of cross department conflicts. And a big part of what causes the Misfit is a failure to recognize what’s fueling the resistance from the other side. While it may appear to be irrational on the surface, usually there are methods to the apparent madness.

What’s fueling Marketing’s “crazy” request? How about the fact it is faced by an ever changing, increasingly competitive business climate? The day of being able to endlessly doing what you’ve endlessly done, and expecting endlessly great results, seems to be endlessly over. Today’s consumers are is both sophisticated and fickle fical. If you don’t shift constantly to keep or gain his their attention, he they will forget you like last week’s lunch, and leave you eating your own bread crumbs. [I changed the pronouns just to make the language inclusive and neutral.]

But IT resistance has its it’s point too. Despite its reputation for doing the that anything is impossible, the limit on IT’s magical powers is that it needs has to have enough time and resources to produce throw at the miracle. Information Technology truly is a great match for the endless imagination of Marketing, assuming it also has all the people it wants to no limit to how many people it can throw at the project, with all and has people with the skills they needed to pull it off. But that’s where the trouble begins, because this is usually not the case. IT capabilities are not a panacea for lack of good planning. [Or else, “IT capabilities are not a substitute for good planning.”]

Big Picture Thinking

So how do we overcome this deadlock and achieve Technology Fit in the organization? Each Both sides needs to gain and learn from the other side’s perspective.

IT needs to realize that without the impetus of marketing, there will be no organization to provide IT services for. Companies only survive when they thrive. If new sales don’t happen, and marketing campaigns don’t succeed, there will be no ongoing IT environment to support. And tThe realities of business require agile adaptation to changing market conditions. Marketing needs to create ways to address these. IT needs to help Marketing make this happen.

Marketing also needs to realize that IT is not the magical realm it often appears to be. Its It’s resource limits are real. So This means the organization has to maximize how it uses utilizes technology. IT cannot be sent spinning out to reinvent one wheel after another, with each new Marketing idea. If the organization is to gain momentum, marketing ideas need to be molded into broader, repeatable marketing programs. Instead of new wheels, new vehicles need to be invented, that will carry the organization farther than the next service station. Companies simply need to get more bang for each IT buck.

Symbiotic Relationship

If you are going to achieve Technology Fit in your organization, you need to help your Marketing and IT departments recognize that they cannot be sworn enemies. They must become inseparable friends. No two departments are so completely dependent on each the other for their its own success. Each must gain from the insights the other has to offer.

IT needs to become excited about helping Marketing achieve its goals. This is what will fuel the organization to new heights. But it must also help mMarketing learn to thinksystems, to think bigger than the present campaign, to the broader world of long term plans. This will help IT fashion tools to that will support more than the present idea, and but make the creation of future programs a snap. Marketing needs to hear this and begin thinking larger, broader, and more far-reaching.

So the next time your Marketing team comes up with an idea to reinvent the wheel, rather than letting your IT department shoot it down, encourage both of them to head back to the drawing board and make sure they go for a whole new vehicle. [Question: if they do that the first time or two, then according to this article, they won’t need to keep doing it. Maybe add a sentence that reminds the reader that this new vehicle only has to be invented in detail once, and then merely tweaked afterward?]

* * * * * * *

Here is the final version, after the edits:

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel . . . Go For The Whole Vehicle

It’s a common scene: Marketing has just come up with a great new promotional idea. It’s bound to turn around your slumping sales figures, and bring in those next quarter numbers where they should be.

The idea is really simple, but will require help from the IT department. You need a special piece of automation to gather just the right info as transactions occur. Then you need an analysis program to ensure that targets have been met. And you want to track which marketing piece produces what kind of response.

Aren’t You Glad To See Me?

This latest campaign is so great you just can’t understand IT’s response when you give them the details . I mean, what is wrong with these people anyway? Are they just bred to be negative?

Despite the brilliance of your plan, you are immediately barraged with reasons why this latest “brilliant” idea is either too full of holes, cannot be done, or at least cannot be done in this century, let alone in such a short time frame. To ice the cake, a collection of past failed marketing attempts is paraded out to seal the argument. This latest vision is just one more in an endless stream of costly endeavors that deplete limited resources that IT needs for more pressing matters.

Can the air escape from a balloon any faster than this? What’s to be done? Before you call in the troops for yet one more battle between these traditional rivals, let’s see how this experience can identify another major cause of Technology Misfit in your organization.

That Coin Has Two Sides

First, it’s important to understand that such posturing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Usually there are valid reasons on both sides of cross department conflicts. A big part of what causes the Misfit is a failure to recognize what’s fueling the resistance from the other side. While it may appear irrational on the surface, usually there are methods to the apparent madness.

What’s fueling Marketing’s “crazy” request? How about the ever changing, increasingly competitive business climate? The day of endlessly doing what you’ve endlessly done, and expecting endlessly great results, seems to be endlessly over. Today’s consumers are both sophisticated and fickle. If you don’t constantly keep their attention, they will forget you like last week’s lunch, and leave you eating your own bread crumbs.

But IT resistance has its point too. Despite its reputation for doing the impossible, the limit on IT’s magical powers is that it needs enough time and resources to produce the miracle. Information Technology truly is a great match for the endless imagination of Marketing, assuming it also has all the people it wants to throw at the project, with all the skills they need to pull it off. But that’s where the trouble begins, because this is usually not the case. IT capabilities are not a panacea for lack of good planning.

Big Picture Thinking

So how do we overcome this deadlock and achieve Technology Fit in the organization? Each side needs to gain and learn from the other side’s perspective.

IT needs to realize that without the impetus of marketing, there will be no organization to provide IT services for. Companies only survive when they thrive. If new sales don’t happen, and marketing campaigns don’t succeed, there will be no ongoing IT environment to support. The realities of business require agile adaptation to changing market conditions. Marketing needs to create ways to address these. IT needs to help Marketing make this happen.

Marketing also needs to realize that IT is not the magical realm it often appears to be. Its resource limits are real. So the organization has to maximize how it uses technology. IT cannot be sent spinning out to reinvent one wheel after another, with each new Marketing idea. If the organization is to gain momentum, marketing ideas need to be molded into broader, repeatable marketing programs. Instead of new wheels, new vehicles need to be invented, that will carry the organization farther than the next service station. Companies simply need to get more bang for each IT buck.

Symbiotic Relationship

If you are going to achieve Technology Fit in your organization, you need to help your Marketing and IT departments recognize that they cannot be sworn enemies. They must become inseparable friends. No two departments are so completely dependent on each other for their own success. Each must gain from the insights the other has to offer.

IT needs to become excited about helping Marketing achieve its goals. This is what will fuel the organization to new heights. But it must also help Marketing learn to think “systems,” to think bigger than the present campaign, to the broader world of long term plans. This will help IT fashion tools to support more than the present idea, and make the creation of future programs a snap. Marketing needs to begin thinking larger, broader, and more far-reaching.

So the next time your Marketing team comes up with an idea to reinvent the wheel, rather than letting your IT department shoot it down, encourage both of them to head back to the drawing board and make sure they go for a whole new vehicle.