The past few years have been full of dynamic change, forcing society to rapidly adapt. Organizations have felt these striking changes as the lives and expectations of both employees and consumers have shifted. The ultimate question is where we go from here and how we drive organizational clarity through continuous change.
At a recent Marketers that Matter Summit, Cara France, Founder and former CEO of the Sage Group and creator of Marketers That Matter, moderated a panel discussion on how to learn from the past to prepare for the future with three marketing executives:
Jed Berger, President of Kenneth Cole
Erin Cast, GM SPT/Omni of Royal Canin North America
Lorraine Barber-Miller, EVP and Chief Marketing & E-Commerce Officer at Philips.
All three speakers believe in empowering your organization’s people to maintain relevance in times of change. Here is what they had to say at the MTM Summit and how it could impact your teams, talent, and future.
- Reimagining Organizations in the Face of Change
- It’s All About the People
- Resisting the Resistance
- The Three Boxes: Figuring Out What Needs to Change
Reimagining Organizations in the Face of Change
So much has changed both internally and externally. When you look forward, how are you thinking about your organization’s journey, and what are the key pieces to keep top of mind?
Jed Berger: I believe in organizational design as a driver of business and culture. Strategies change because growth requires change. We often bring someone from the outside instead of giving someone on our team a stretch opportunity.
This type of management can create problems, which manifest themselves lower in the organization. Not only does this create territorial behavior, but it impacts culture, roles, and responsibilities.
You can’t do everything – you need to prioritize. If you’re going to add, you need to find where you can subtract, too. This doesn’t necessarily mean people; it can mean initiatives, strategies, tactics, or resources. It could also mean giving someone the shot to learn and evolve your business. You can’t be afraid of that. It takes patience, commitment, and belief in your people.
Erin Cast: In pet care, we recently saw tremendous change and growth during the pandemic.
There were millions of pets added to households, and there has also been a shift in younger pet parents who view pets as family.
We learned that when your business has incredibly high growth like ours, you need to simplify, add agility, and empower your teams. We responded to the growth by creating smaller business units, focusing on skill-building, and investing a billion dollars in manufacturing sites to enable the future.
Lorraine Barber-Miller: We are considered one of the most valuable brands in the world, and we take that responsibility seriously. To stay relevant, we must transform ourselves from within.
When I joined Phillips one month before the pandemic, I realized this crisis could be a catalyst that drives change. We reexamined all levels of the organization and built a new blueprint. We’re reimagining the entire function from the inside out so that we can stay a relevant brand.
In the healthcare industry, we have a responsibility and privilege to serve society. In the past decade, we’ve pivoted from being purely a consumer electronics business because we believe we should use our assets as a company to serve the unmet needs in the world. Now, we are all about health and creating access to health. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I took this opportunity to say: This is our moment; let’s reimagine everything.
It’s All About the People
In your change journey, what have been lessons you’ve learned along the way, either from success or failure?
Erin Cast: When you’re in a high-growth company, you need to preserve culture, but you also have to engage new associates early. When leading change, one of the biggest enablers is having stakeholders build a common, data-driven understanding to align on the path forward. There needs to be a single source of truth and agreement on leading KPIs, which drives consistency and speed.
Lorraine Barber-Miller: It comes down to this: Conviction, commitment, and courageous leadership. The outside world has shifted, and we must self-disrupt before someone else disrupts us.
Within an organization, transformation comes down to one thing: the people. We need to have everyone on board. Change is hard, and you have to create belief amongst your people and take them on the journey with you.
We’ve also created oxygen moments where employees have time to think about their impact and their career path. We want them to stay with us, so we need to give them a clear view of the path ahead.
Jed Berger: I believe in the formalization of communication. Leaders need to have a high degree of self-awareness and recognize that their decisions affect people much lower than them. One of my most effective conversations with my team is asking them to list what activities aren’t working clearly. We have found that when you stop doing things that aren’t essential, it allows for more innovation and productivity.
Resisting the Resistance
When a change agent is coming in, how do you win everyone over? How do you get past the defense mechanism?
Lorraine Barber-Miller: I wish I had a secret formula for change. But I always start with the customer, consumer, and patient – they are the North star. Once we demonstrate the value, impact, and purpose, it unites people. Often the resistance to change is the need for more clarity. People want to know: what does this change mean for me? Although some people were more resistant to the changes, others were saying, “finally!”
Jed Berger: There will always be people who will resist change and those who will be grateful for it. When you bring the organization with you to fix problems and allow them to solve them alongside you, everyone wins. But when leaders say, “I’m changing everything!” without collaboration, the resistance will become stronger.
Getting Clear on What Needs to Change
In a group exercise, MTM Summit participants brainstormed what’s working, what’s not, and what’s possible when driving organizational clarity and iterating for the future.
- Leaders who enter a transitory period with a clear plan and formalized communication.
- Leaders who define the why, what, where, and how.
- Leaders who identify the roles each team plays in the transformation.
What’s Not Working:
- Not enough commitment from stakeholders.
- Leaders who lack self-awareness overlook how their decisions impact those lower in the organization.
- Lack of deliberate actions and clarity.
- Give people stretch opportunities and maximize the talent you already have.
- Give internal talent a chance to rise to the occasion.
- Align people with a common definition of success.
- Use a well-defined strategy, structure, and people-first approach.
- Keep your purpose as your north star.
Moderated by Cara France, Founder and former CEO of the Sage Group and creator of Marketers That Matter: Founder and former CEO of The Sage Group and creator of Marketers that Matter®, Cara built a career on a passion for connecting & engaging people, understanding business needs, and delivering results. During her lengthy tenure as CEO, The Sage Group grew into an award-winning professional services firm providing marketing & business consultants and permanent talent to top Bay Area companies. Clients include 50% of Silicon Valley’s premier technology companies, largest banks, and best global brands.
Lorraine Barber-Miller, EVP and Chief Marketing & E-Commerce Officer at Philips: Lorraine is an accomplished global Chief Marketing & E-Commerce Officer recognized for building businesses and delivering exceptional financial results across mature and growth markets and in both consumer (B2C) and professional (B2B) domains. She has advanced through marketing, communications, and sales disciplines domestically and internationally while having led marketing transformation and entrepreneurial business building in over 100 countries. Before Lorraine became Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing & E-Commerce Officer for Philips, she previously served as Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer for ADP with global functional and financial responsibility.
Erin Cast, GM SPT/Omni of Royal Canin: Erin Cast is a high-performance and high-energy global marketer and General Manager for Royal Canine. She combines data-driven decision-making with relevant storytelling, innovation, and go-to-market execution. She builds high-performance teams, fostering a challenger mentality, cross-functional collaboration, and agile optimization. Erin is known for building and implementing differentiated brand identity, evolving go-to-market strategy for categories across Beauty, Wellness, Food & Beverage/Alcohol, Luxury/Lifestyle, Men’s & Women’s, Consumer Goods, Apparel, Retail, and Pet Care.
Jed Berger, President of Kenneth Cole: Jed Berger is a marketing expert and recognized business and organizational leader. He is proficient in reaching today’s consumers, exceeding revenue, driving long-term growth, and leading culture. Before joining Kenneth Cole Productions as the President, he served as the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Foot Locker. His thought leadership has been acknowledged regularly throughout his career, including being named to SBG 40 Under 40 in 2011, and Footwear News 40 Under 40 in 2018.
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