Being “better” isn’t enough: today’s benchmark of success is being “10x” better than anyone or anything else.
This double-digit multiplier first gained currency in developer circles as a way of differentiating the impact of high-level performers versus their average colleague.
The problem is scalability. High-impact, high-performing colleagues can transform a business. But they’re also in demand. And high-performing colleague walks out the door and waves goodbye, they leave a gaping hole behind.
You need 10x process. That’s not more process, it’s workflows that are 10 times smarter than how you’re working right now.
Information overload is the enemy of productivity. Research last year showed how time for primary tasks was being squeezed to just 36% of the working day – thanks to the daily deluge of emails, IMs, calls, meetings, and administrative tasks. The answer is a different approach to prioritisation.
- Eisenhower Matrix: Named after the 34th President of the United States, the Eisenhower Matrix helps make an instant decision on the priority of action points. Try it in your next meeting: go armed with a simple grid to identity and balance Important/Less important, Urgent/Less Urgent tasks and decide what can wait or be delegated. Fill it in there and then. If a task gets allocated to the Important/Urgent segment of your grid, it’s what you’ll need to do next. If a task hits the Less Important/Less urgent segment, that’s something to delegate. If it’s Urgent/Not Important, it ranks on your “to do” list as the next stop after more important work gets done.
- Swim lanes: Similar principles, different method. Create a chart with five columns labelled Backlog, In Progress, Blocked, To Be Reviewed, and Done.
Place your live tasks in the appropriate column and track them as they move through the “lanes” to completion. Pin it as a poster on your office wall for the whole team to see and there’s an immediate uplift in transparency and understanding on the status of tasks and who is tied up.
What are the routine tasks you repeat all the time? Identify them and find a way of automating them.
Automating a manual task that takes half an hour a day will give you back two and a half hours over your working week to invest in other, more valuable activity.
And become a master of the tools you use. From auto-calculations, filters, and pivot tables in Excel, to auto-formatting in Word, make the most of the time-saving functionality that most users ignore.
If you don’t understand the value of one activity versus another, how can you prioritise?
Every marketer knows that assigning value to content, a campaign or channel can be problematic. We live in a world where audiences engage with brands through multiple touch-points before deciding, finally, whether or not to engage or transact. But making the upfront effort to assign a monetary value to a “prospect” – not a customer, but a top-of-the-funnel target – is worth the time. Once you have established a Prospect Value (PR) you can assess the relative performance of different channels and activities on-site or off-site.
Where channels are underperforming, make changes. Where channels are performing strongly, stretch for incremental improvement. But tracking Prospect Value will help underline your team’s contribution to overall business performance.
No one has a monopoly on wisdom, however senior they are in an organisation. Encouraging team members to collaborate – particularly across disciplines – can be a route to unexpected, innovative solutions.
- Technology: From team communications to project management, choose apps that create a focused space for collaboration. Group instant messaging tools like Slack win out over email because they encourage quick, real-time discussion rather than linear message threads. Collaborative project management tools add a layer of transparency to workload. And if colleagues can see who is doing what, when, and what else is stacking up, there’s likely to be more understanding in the office and willingness to step in and help.
- Space: Ever tried to run a creative session in a boardroom? Think of a grey, anonymous space with a big screen at one end of the room. When people walk in, they expect a meeting. You need to find spaces your team will associate with collaboration rather than sitting at a table. Get them moving; get them working in different places. Adding a granola and juice station isn’t the recipe for a creative workspace – just getting the team to identify break-out spaces for discussion is.
5. Get Agile
Another innovation from the developer field is Agile project management. Traditional workflows are linear: a production line. And like all production lines, the process needs to flow from start to end without interruption or deviation from plan … otherwise it comes grinding to a halt.
Agile breaks down a project into “stories” and “sprints”.
The stories are tasks in the backlog of work. The sprints are bursts of activity within a two-week cycle to get them done.
Every day there’s a 10-minute daily stand-up meeting – not a sit-down look at the table session – but a quick-fire progress report on what’s been achieved and what’s been blocked.
If something unexpected comes along – a change in the way a channel works, or an unexpected move by a competitor – the Agile methodology allows teams to adapt quickly.
Deprioritised work gets returned to the backlog and other work gets pulled forward. And unlike linear workflows, Agile is flexible. You can deploy the methodology as much or as little as suits your team and their tasks.
If it’s work with a deadline, you can apply the Agile methodology. If it’s work without a deadline, you’ve got a bigger problem to fix.
Doing what worked yesterday doesn’t guarantee success today, nor tomorrow. The marketing landscape is ever-changing.
Embrace a spirit of permanent evolution. Everything you’re working on can be improved, even in small increments.
Find time to read, engage with peers.
Find ways to challenge your experience and refreshing your knowledge.
But if you can create marketing processes that are 10x better, you’ll not only find more time for the work you really want to do – but your team will thank you too.
By Jada Balster, Marketing Director, Workfront