What Marketers Can Learn from Innovators


Joi Ito, Director of Media Labs at MIT, encourages innovators to be "now'ists". Focus on leveraging collaboration in the now rather than being a futurist and trying to determine what is coming next.

What that means is recognizing that the traditional rules we have for institutions don't work anymore. The more effort we spend on practitioners learning experience the smarter, more collaborative and higher performing they will be. We need to be in favor of compasses rather than maps.

This applies perfectly to agencies and brands as institutions that continue to follow those traditional rules that don't work anymore. Brands create their marketing plans through IDM's usually a year in advance. Those maps can become quickly irrelevant when there are new technologies or platforms that changes the dynamic of communication and how we reach and engage with customers.

Focusing on "commanders intent" or a "compass" rather than a fully scoped road map can yield better participation and integration from teams as well as better results. I've seen few brands embrace this new thinking because it's how the CMO performance is judged. "Here's the goal and strategies you created 12-18 months ago and here's how you're performing against them." That's entirely unrealistic in today's digital marketing climate.

Executive Leadership that provides "commanders intent", purpose and a destination (role clarity) then give strategist the ability to have mastery and ownership experience better integration and better results. Build quickly and improve constantly is the lesson here.

How do your teams balance the need to have structure and yet move quickly?

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