Creating A Breakthrough Culture Of Continuous Improvement

Part three of my conversation with Tom Cole, President and CEO of RDA.  In this session, we’ll discuss how to create a culture of continuous improvement.  A culture where the entire organizations understands how to move the business forward and is empowered to act on it.  Here’s a summary of that conversation.

Many people will emphasize the importance of leading from the top, and while that is true, it’s also essential to get your whole team to buy-in. In the past, we talked about how important it is to find and focus on the right KPIs, but a team buy-in is how you convert this from theory into practice. A buy-in is mainly accomplished through creating a culture of constant improvement. This puts you all on the same page and unlocks micro-knowledge that your specific sub-teams may have. Here’s how to get started.

To begin the conversation, we should mention the classic adage that “the people doing the work know long before the leadership on what works and doesn’t work.” As a result, empowering your team is key to helping to start an improvement culture. Going back to the idea of KPI implementation, you want to see not only the bottom line but how your changes impact your teams at those levels. Understanding these two points helps create more sharing of opinions and promotes a healthier dialogue.

How do you create the basis for this platform? Day-to-day behavioral data. For example, if a given page has two options for a buyer to choose, you need to see what’s driving the choice that they make. When you start to build on that data and create KPIs that revolve around that data, suddenly, you have a deeper understanding of how the customer thinks. Then, you can start building your team around that data. Part of what complicates this is are the different tools out there, from SMS systems to ERP systems to SEO services.

The issue here is that all of these tools are designed to look at data through a specific lens. If you run your data from an SEO service, you’re only seeing it from an SEO perspective. What you need is to have tools that can combine data from all of these different silos. These help create a customer flow/journey, which you can then share to the rest of your team. When everyone has that information, everyone can contribute, and you’re starting to get everyone working towards improvement.

So, at this point, you’re starting to get everyone working in the same direction. How do you build these elements to create a formal market strategy and value proposition? You don’t want to create a caste system where there’s the group that has the information, doles it out, then interprets it for everyone. Instead, you want a dynamic team where everyone takes action, sees their results, and can pivot accordingly. Empowering people is the first step.

The second step is your choice of tools. Everyone has one or several of the million different marketing tools/services out there. Buying more isn’t the solution. Instead, you want to maximize the insight you get from your existing tools, and then look into supplemental options if necessary.

We can see examples of this in how megacompanies like Amazon and Wal-Mart responded to COVID-19. Amazon knows their main appeal is low price and convenience, so they doubled down in areas like one-click buying, bundling, and same-day-service delivery. Wal-Mart has community as a major point they focus on, so they tried to do things like drive-in movies on the sides of their buildings, showing their support for local customers. This comes from knowing their customer journey, based on data, and building around it. So, in the face of a challenge, they improve.

The key here is understanding how KPIs drive a business. If you want to create this culture for your team, you need to:

  1. Everyone should have a working knowledge of the KPIs that drive the business
  2. Break down the data silos between departments
  3. Ensure knowledge is disseminated across the entire organizations
 

Building this type of company culture can seem daunting for team leadership at first, which is why it may be better to break it down into a series of smaller deliverables. Be sure to follow the Mahdlo blog, visit Mahdlo.net or RDA for more information and news on marketing trends and developing your business.

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Watch the full interview here.

Tom Cole

RDA, President and CEO

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