If you’ve been hanging onto your hats as the gale force winds of social media blow away the traditional marketing tools you’ve mastered, the ride isn’t over.
The pace of integration between innovation, strategy, and marketing – let’s call it “the big three” – is being palpably felt inbusiness model redesign, open innovation strategies, and mobile marketing programs in virtually every industry.
There is a new skill marketers need to develop to stay relevant in this newly integrating realm. According to experts, marketers will have to polish up a new skill – collaboration – as they increasingly rub elbows with other disciplines.
In 2009, a year after the Great Recession sank its grizzly teeth into economies across the globe, top-ranked Thinkers50 sage and strategy guru C. K. Prahalad, during a speech at theWorld Innovation Forum pronounced the world was undergoing a “global reset.”
In addition to the disappearance of traditional boundaries which once parsed “markets” and “industries” into discrete bundles, Prahalad predicted that long revered functions like strategic planning and product development would be totally reshaped. Smaller, nimbler team configurations that could “sense and respond” effectively would dominate, pushing Industrial Age hierarchies aside. In this new reality, marketing, innovation, and strategic planning would all become one function.
And Prahalad was right…his prediction is becoming a reality. How can marketers respond and remain distinguished players in this new mash-up?
Collaboration Is the New “SuperSkill”
Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for media group VivaKi, commented to me in a recent interview, “The top three things for businesses to focus on today are: 1) relevance; 2) innovation; and 3) attracting and retaining talent. Collaboration is crucial to all three.”
Although his answer caught me off guard, I see Tobaccowala’s emphasis on collaboration echoed by others, including Yves Morieux, a BCG Fellow in Boston Consulting Group’s Paris office – specializing in organizational and team design – who believes that soft skills will begin driving “power and influence” in companies for the next decade. Prime among these? Collaboration.
Collaboration has not been as widely researched as teamwork, and the two are often confused. But marketers arewell served to note crucial differences between them.
In teamwork for example, each member typically fulfills a prescribed role, completing designated tasks and assignments. In collaboration, however, the capabilities of the group merge in a discovery learning process, forming knowledge assets that actually exceed the sum of the individual expertise in the group.
To become strong collaborators, marketers need to leverage clusters of skills which might individually be considered “secondary” rather than primary. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review by John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, and Scott D. Edinger, these seven qualities together drive collaboration excellence in individuals:
- Inspires and motivates others.
- Displays honesty and integrity.
- Communicates powerfully and broadly.
- Establishes stretch goals.
- Develops strategic perspective.
- Builds relationships.
- Develops others.
Although collaboration is emerging as a crucial new “superskill,” few organizations have yet groomed superior collaboration prowess into their marketing, innovation, and strategy mash-ups. But some of them have.
Integration Between Marketing, Innovation, and Strategy Honored by Edison Awards
On April 25th, the 2012 Edison Awards will honor dozens of nominees with gold, silver, or bronze accolades in twelve categories. Many of the nominees you will recognize – including Apple, Corning, 3M, Amazon, Whirlpool, and Kraft. Others, like IdeoMed or PixelOptics, may be less familiar.
But this year, the Edison Awards has also established a special new category recognizing the blurring lines between innovation, strategy, and marketing. Powered by MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group), the new award is called the Thomas A. Edison Marketing Awardand reflects outstanding collaborative ability in “crossing traditional lines” within markets and industries. By dovetailing the big three disciplines of marketing, strategy, andinnovation which Edison himself mastered, the following products and services will vie for special recognition:
- Seth Godin’s Domino Project for its new business model in publishing.
- Nielsen Catalina Solutions for its real-time in-store metrics blending purchases with couponing infrastructure.
- HubSpot for its all-in-one inbound marketing software.
- YouTube Space Lab for bringing science experiments from the classroom to outer space.
Please join me in congratulating this year’s 2012 Edison Awards nominees, with particular kudos to those in line for the Thomas A Edison Marketing Award. We can all learn from the leading edge collaboration abilities of these extraordinary teams!