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How does Smarketing relate to a learning organizational culture?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 1/22/10 11:21 AM

Smarketing, Business Development and the Learning Organization

An article in Business Week caught my attention as I waited in my doctor's office recently. "How the Mighty Fall" featured a book excerpt from Jim Collins where he discusses 5 stages of decline to recognize in a business that he believes would indicate its decline and eventual demise.

I read it with the thought, 'how better to understand how to help make a business grow than by understanding what pitfalls to avoid it's demise?' Reverse engineering if you will.

Smarketing cannot survive without a learning organizational culture.

The meaning and intent behind a learning organization culture can be summed into 2 common phrases: Don't shoot the messenger. Always be learning.

What really interested me about the article was the part where Collins discussed the dynamics of leadership-team behavior. The reason I found this so interesting is that they are almost the same traits that necessary for sales and marketing alignment (or integration) to happen.

So what are the good traits (or the business development bright spots) that you should seek to encourage in your company? How will you realize the benefits of a Smarketing model that will help you to optimize your business as a whole? What traits should you recognize as the beginning of a demise?

Good: Your team is not afraid to bring the bad news. Lay it out so that it can be discussed and don't shoot the messenger. Sticking your head in the sand will only worsen the problem and most likely be the thing that rears its ugly head and sinks you when you least expect it or are prepared for it. (whether it is marketing campaign that brought no return, a software release full of bugs, or an impossible sales quota- avoiding it will not make it go away!)

Bad: People start to shield those in power from bad news. They are afraid of penalties or being labeled as not being a team player or having a bad attitude.

Good: Leaders demand data, evidence, logic and a solid argument to back up the discussion. When you focus on the reality of cold hard numbers it is much easier to take the ego, blame and temper out of a difficult discussion. When team members use this method to debate, wisdom can be found from bad experiences.

Bad: People give strong opinions without any current data, evidence, or solid argument. The most common statement I hear is: "Well, because when I was with such-and- such company, we did it this way" (never mind the fact that it was 15 years ago in a different economy and prior to the internet as a medium).

Good: Team leaders employ a Socratic-style. In other words, they make less statements and ask more questions. You will always find the best answers when you know what questions to ask.

Bad: Leaders ask few questions and avoid critical input. They allow sloppy reasoning and unsupported opinions because they do not want to appear like they do not know everything.

Good: Team members unite for the common cause, even if they disagree with it. Once a decision is made, it will take the whole team to make it succeed. Again, in comes back to setting egos aside. Then when success is realized, everyone gives credit to one another and enjoys their achievement.

Bad: Team members undermine a decision because it was either not their idea or they disagree with it. I have seen this a lot in marketing departments where when one person's campaign idea is shot down and so they refuse to be part of the team because "no one listens" to them anyway. And so of course the campaign is delayed or fails and they are the first to point and say, "I told you it would never work."

Business development is everyone's job.

These are the traits you need to have as a leader (whether you are the CEO, CMO or small business owner) and as a member of the sales and marketing team.

What are some of the good (or bad) traits you see in your company (or others) and how do you hope to spread them (or stop them cold in their tracks)?

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P.S. fast forward to May 2012, the last update to this post. One of the new catch phrases of late is, 'your competitive advantage is your culture.' How else does this post apply to that phrase today? Or does it?

Topics: business development, smarketing, sales and marketing alignment, sales and marketing integration