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5 Elements Required to Secure Your 2023 Marketing Budget

During times of uncertainty, it’s important your marketing strategies and spend are aligned with business outcomes.

During recessionary times, marketing is often one of the first disciplines needing to evolve and adjust spending. As you enter 2023 planning, you should be prepared to have to make a case for the budget you will need to drive key business outcomes.  

For savvy marketers, this doesn’t mean shutting off in-flight brand and marketing strategies in service of demand generation. Instead, it means strategically aligning marketing activity to business outcomes and articulating the value in terms that resonate with non-marketing leaders—including the board of directors.   

To help you get started, we’re sharing our five critical elements needed to make a case for your 2023 marketing budget.  

Know Your Baseline  

Performance dashboards are often a wise first point of entry for data-minded marketing leaders looking to show real-time insights and build transparency across business verticals and disciplines. At their most robust, such dashboards can bring value across the business by providing a single view of the customer across sales, product and marketing.   

As a starting place, you should have a consolidated understanding of topline metrics that can empower and facilitate discussion around performance and the next best action, which should connect the marketing activity with business outcomes. A data baseline builds accountability and can relieve concerns regarding marketing efficacy. While it may seem obvious in theory, this level of reporting is rarer than one might think.  

When you align marketing activity with business performance, you empower your partners and teams by efficiently attributing c-suite level metrics. Holding companies and traditional media agencies may not be equipped to discuss the possibility of recessionary budget cuts – primarily because many agencies do not align brand spend with business outcomes. At Prophet, we do things a bit differently. As a growth-minded consultancy, we help our clients connect the dots between business objectives and marketing planning, customer metrics and in-flight marketing results.  

Make the Business Case  

From our recent global research, “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” we learned that marketers in the most successful businesses are more likely to cite “customer lifetime value” as a key marketing objective. Whereas, within lower-performing businesses, marketers are more likely to focus on tactic-level measurements, such as “enhancing digital marketing support” and “coordination with channel partners.” While the latter are critical operational goals, they are less growth-oriented and trickier to connect to customer relevancy and business outcomes.  

When making a case for your 2023 marketing budget, ensuring your objectives and the funding needed to execute quantifies the impact on the business will lead to a more successful outcome.  

Developing a marketing budget that delivers a measurable ROI requires a holistic understanding of the business and your customers. Once you have accomplished this, you can map your spending to in-market marketing tactics.  

As you develop a proactive business case for your customer-centric marketing budget, there are three primary areas you should focus on:   

  1. Budget Benchmarking: Your c-suite will not always understand the importance of investing in brand and demand marketing, especially during a recession. To help you justify your budget, you should leverage competitor research to build your budget benchmarks.
  2. Agile Strategic Planning: Building a marketing budget requires investment in off-cycle marketing strategy and planning. Marketers will benefit from correlating their strategies with revised strategic business goals, especially as operating climates and customer needs evolve.
  3. Aligning Marketing and Business Goals: You should ensure your KPIs roll up to topline corporate metrics. We believe this means aligning budgets toward a closer marriage of brand and marketing spend, or what we lovely call at Prophet “performance branding.”  

Benchmarks for Everyone  

You must translate marketing performance into a simple language centered on business outcomes so your C-suite colleagues can understand the impact you can make with the right budget. Benchmarks provide the necessary context on what key metrics mean regarding marketing efficiency and effectiveness and opportunity.   

Finance leaders will want to know how the return on marketing spend compares against peers through the campaign, channel and partner analysis. Sales leaders are concerned with how marketing-owned activities have contributed to revenue generation and how those efforts stack up against industry competitors. Colleagues of all functional areas are interested in marketing insights that identify competency and performance and product gaps and how marketing addresses those opportunity areas.   

A thoughtful spectrum of benchmarks focused on industry and out-of-category leaders and laggards can highlight specific improvement areas where business contributions may be trailing average and high performers.    

Optimize for Agility  

As businesses pivot to accommodate changing economic trajectories, so should marketing function. Marketing teams that are organized to perform against an agile strategic plan are best poised to keep up with evolving customer needs. To build an agile strategic plan, you need to map marketing activities to growth objectives. We recommend leveraging a simple taxonomy to ensure marketing teams are in sync with other departments such as finance, sales and leadership.   

For organizations experiencing more fundamental market shifts or disruption, optimization might require a more robust re-evaluation of investment priorities across operating and execution budgets to support the opportunities that will likely make the most business impact. As customer expectations evolve and go-to-market strategies are upended, marketing planning and overarching program spending must adapt accordingly.   

Embrace a Performance Branding Mentality  

Last is the need to marry the art of marketing with the science of topline fiscal reporting. There is a relatively clear correlation between CFO-level metrics and marketing conversion KPIs for late funnel metrics. However, top-of-funnel, traditional marketing-centric tactics and measurement approaches are rarely understood by non-practitioners.   

What do we mean by that? CFOs are unlikely to understand metrics such as impressions or clicks, especially in a constrained or contracting revenue environment. Downturns are not the time to attempt a profound education on the value of these metrics. Instead, we believe it is critical to put marketing success in terms that the CFO (and other C-suites) can understand.  

Taking a performance branding mentality to your budget can collapse the funnel between brand and performance – and maximize efficacy. Traditional approaches to brand marketing allocate limited rigor in managing upper-funnel digital tactics and media.  

In an inflationary environment where every dollar is being counted, you must deploy a clear understanding of your customer behaviors and preferences earlier in the funnel to apply greater precision to brand spend.  

But it’s important to not over-index on metrics like ROI. Instead, you should evaluate leading indicators for revenue that demonstrate marketing’s influence on growth, such as nurture or account-based progression.   

Prophet has an established baseline framework for evaluating marketing spend. This framework helps translate marketing KPIs to business performance metrics, seeking to integrate brand and demand and create clarity of impact across the organization.

While this can vary slightly by industry, rethinking traditional marketing insights to business-level measurements is the first step in substantiating future marketing budgets. The more you can show a linear impact on business growth, the easier it should be to substantiate marketing spend in support of customer outcomes.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

During times of uncertainty, marketers need to align their budgets to business outcomes and effectively communicate the value in terms that resonate with executive leadership teams. To do so, ensure your budget is customer-centric and includes the performance dashboards, benchmarks and agile plans to make the business case.   

Connect with Prophet today to learn how to build a customer-centric 2023 marketing budget that is aligned with your business objectives.

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From URL to IRL: Four Pillars of Experiential Design for the Future of Offline Retail 

As consumers begin returning to in-person shopping, it’s time for retailers to revisit the role of physical retail stores.  

The last few years saw a boom in e-commerce, with innovations such as shoppable live streams, virtual try-ons and AI-powered recommendations enhancing the online retail experience. Today, as consumers re-enter physical stores, retailers can seize the opportunity to reimagine what in-person shopping looks like in the future of retail.  

Consumers’ shopping behaviors have changed. Physical stores are no longer simply places of transaction. Instead, they can serve as storytelling centers that bring brands to life. Offline retail can help customers learn about products, provide an experience value and create stronger relationships. Customers like to view stores as places to experience something unique, memorable and human. 

Also, brands must be clear on their story and audience when designing spaces and their content to create an in-store experience. Once the retail strategy is clear, it’s all about execution. To create a distinct offline experience, brands must think critically about what experiences are only possible in person and how technology can be leveraged to deliver them.  

Below are four areas for brands to consider when developing an experiential design for the future of offline retail: 

1. Beyond POS: Cultivating Community at the Storefront 

It’s time to think beyond transactions. Having a physical footprint in today’s world can be so much more for a brand than simply a point-of-sale. Stores can become multi-purpose spaces dedicated to activities and brand activations that create a sense of community. Customers can come to a store to discover and learn about a brand and touch and feel its products.  

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IKEA has long been known for its one-of-a-kind in-store experience, with its winding paths, tiny model homes and world-famous meatballs. Its new store in Vienna takes it one step further. Rather than the giant blue warehouse that customers are used to, this 7-story structure of stacked glass pods and covered in greenery was designed to resemble the brand’s minimalist shelving units. Inside, the building offers a public rooftop terrace in addition to a hostel and café. Shoppers can shop, scan and pay directly from the IKEA mobile app and have larger items delivered to their homes via emission-free electric vehicles. IKEA plans for this new store to be more than a shopping center; instead, it’s meant to serve as an urban hub for people to gather in the heart of the city center.  

2. In-Store Analytics: Connecting the Data Dots 

Retail stores are also untapped data mines for brands. By leveraging technology that can track customer behavior in stores, brands can improve the offline journey for their consumers and even create personalized shopping experiences. This behind-the-scenes investment can give brands valuable data about how their customers shop as well as help better predict future trends. 

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Emart, Korea’s largest retailer, partnered with Seoul Robotics to install patented sensor technology in one of its busiest hypermarkets in the country. In doing so, Emart is able to capture data on customers’ shopping behaviors, such as their typical path around the store and where they spend the most time. Seoul Robotics’ technology also addresses concerns around consumer privacy. By using sensor technology that anonymizes customers rather than cameras that collect their images, no biometric data or personally identifiable information is recorded. This anonymized data is still hugely useful to Emart, though. Through a comprehensive customer data strategy, the information can be used to better manage inventory and product assortment as well as offer customers a highly personalized shopping experience, such as specific coupons based on aisles browsed.   

3. Omnichannel 2.0: Bringing Seamlessness Offline 

The ubiquity of e-commerce has elevated customers’ all-around expectations of a brand. Consumers have the same demands for ease and convenience when shopping in-store as they do online. Brands should view brick-and-mortar stores as opportunities to weave in technology, create more seamless touchpoints between them and their consumers and offer a true omnichannel experience. 

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Amazon recently opened its first Amazon Style store, expanding on its offline retail presence portfolio. Amazon Style is the company’s latest foray into fashion and seeks to make in-store shopping as easy and seamless as the online experience. Customers can use the Amazon Shopping app to scan an item’s QR code in-store, which will show them product sizing, colors, ratings and deals. They can then choose to send the item to a fitting room and use touchscreens to request different sizes or colors while also browsing AI-powered recommendations for similar items. Checkout is also a breeze via Amazon One palm scanners: with a wave of the hand, shoppers can purchase their items and be on their way.  

But technology alone won’t be enough. Earlier this year, Amazon closed all its Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star retail locations. To fully convince shoppers, Amazon must find a way to create customer-centric experiences that combine the convenience and accessibility of online shopping with the in-store magic that only an IRL experience can deliver.  

4. Retail’s Ultimate Edge: Engaging All the Senses 

Ultimately, offline retail can win by creating experiences that are simply irreplicable online. Embracing stores as multi-sensorial touchpoints can allow brands to create innovative, memorable and highly engaging customer experiences. Brands that can do this successfully will have no trouble compelling shoppers to move off-screen and in-store. 

Scent, one of our strongest senses, has a direct linkage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories. When used strategically, scent technology can create a memorable and vivid in-store experience and create desired shopping behaviors. Bloomingdale’s, for example, uses different scents for different sections throughout the store, such as coconut in swimwear and baby powder in infant clothing. Kyobo Book Centre, Korea’s largest bookstore chain, uses a signature scent inspired by trees and wind, meant to relax customers while creating a unified experience across its stores. 

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Sound plays to another one of our senses and can have a surprising impact on customer behavior, such as increasing brand recall and dwell time by creating a purposeful auditory experience. Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury sub-brand, uses a unique audio identity throughout its entire brand experience, from inside its vehicles to within its showrooms. This auditory expression of its motto, “Quietly Iconic,” is gentle yet distinct, a reflection of the brand’s positioning of modern luxury. 

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Hyundai recently opened Genesis House in New York, which serves as a brand experience center rather than a traditional showroom, incorporating this meticulously designed sound experience throughout its restaurant, library and event spaces. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

While the pandemic posed its fair share of challenges to retailers everywhere, those that have powered through have the opportunity to rethink and redefine their retail experience strategy. Customers are hungry for in-person interactions, and memorable, seamless, multi-sensorial experiences that connect them to the brand – and each other.  

Connect with Prophet today to see how we can help reimagine the future of retail for your brand. 

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Is There a New Love Story Between Brand and Demand Marketing in Southeast Asia? 

SEA’s exploding e-commerce scene brings to the forefront the balancing act of brand building and demand generation. 

During my recent keynote at DigiBranCon in Kuala Lumpur, I spoke to a congregation of leading marketers on the dichotomy of brand building versus demand marketing. In the post-Covid-19 era, where digital adoption and acceleration changed everything, should you invest more on brand building or demand marketing?  

The Context: Southeast Asia’s Rising Digital Adoption 

Southeast Asia’s massive e-commerce sector is advancing at a rate that is exceeding expectations. There are over 350 million internet users today and close to 10 million more coming online each year. In SEA, the time spent online has already surpassed the time spent watching TV and the online time spent in China and Japan. 

Brands hoping to engage with SEA consumers must keep in mind the mobile-first nature of the market, with high levels of social media usage and influence. Successful brands are already using social as an e-commerce sales channel, catering to a young population with strong consumer ambitions. Established unicorns such as Grab, Lazada, Shopee, InMobi and Tokopedia are investing heavily in digital commerce and beginning to compete with newer, emerging players in the space. 

The digital acceleration that took place during the pandemic invariably led to more brands shifting sales online. While there is a myriad of factors that lead to success or failure, one key consideration is the tension of brand building versus demand marketing.  

Having a brand that stands out in the sea of competition is especially important online. In e-commerce, becoming a preferred brand is even harder yet critical – how do marketers build brand affinity and grow demand? Given most brands in SEA are small to medium-sized enterprises, this can be difficult given the time and financial investment required. As a result, many brands focus on near-term goals, relying on demand marketing for short-term sales and promotions. While this may convince consumers to make impulse purchases or trials, it doesn’t accomplish the longer-term goal of building true brand loyalty. 

Should You Invest in Brand or Demand Marketing? 

If no one knows your brand, your demand generation isn’t going to be as successful as it could be. You need brand awareness for demand generation to work and vice versa. Your brand establishes your legitimacy, creates loyal customer relationships and helps efficiently drive demand. Demand marketing is more about “Why buy one now?” It involves education and highlighting pain points with urgency. Branding is more about “Why buy from us?” It entails building your reputation so that people choose your product to solve that problem – even though there are likely other options.

As marketers, we know brand strategies don’t always directly connect to a sales pipeline, and demand doesn’t always lead to increased awareness in the market. But when the efforts from both sides are designed to complement each other, we’re able to reach a new, unprecedented level of cohesion across the entire marketing program –creating a powerful growth engine that helps us achieve the goals of: 

  • Building preference for your brand and products  
  • Reducing price sensitivity  
  • Nurturing loyal and repeat customers 
  • Saving costs with improved operational efficiencies 
  • Creating a sustainable revenue stream
  • Higher effectiveness and ROI with our marketing investment  

Prophet’s approach to brand and demand marketing is grounded in recognizing that there is a better way to engage with modern audiences, which is especially meaningful in SEA. It is a sustained, integrated approach that continuously engages with audiences inside and outside the marketing funnel in a value exchange that drives growth for both the audience and the brand.  

How to Strike the Right Balance?  

Is there a magical ratio between brand to demand? The conventional 60/40 brand/demand investment split is helpful but increasingly outdated and doesn’t accurately reflect what any medium or touchpoint can do. It also depends on the market situation and your business goals – the ratio will and should change at any given time to adapt to competitive environments.  

To be good, we need to do both. But to be great, we need a more intentional, unifying strategy. The ideal state is to develop a long-term strategy across the customer journey to build preference, which helps to achieve faster, short-term quick wins during moments when buyers are more receptive to “demand” campaigns.  

There are four golden rules that we identified in our recent, global research
 

  1. Build a marketing organization that has the skills and capabilities for both brand and demand, with teams working together against a shared purpose
  2. Design your marketing approaches in an integrated fashion starting with annual planning.
  3. Experimentation leads to success. Build a learning agenda and provide an investment budget.
  4. Track performance and progress with an integrated brand and demand view and laddering up to business goals. 

Through expertise and excellent marketing campaigns, you’ll build relationships that showcase how your product really is better than your competitors, and you’ll have a whole audience of loyal fans to back you up on that. The key lies in regularly fine-tuning your brand-to-demand ratios based on the goals of your brand, the product/campaign and audience response.  

A good example is the regional fashion e-commerce brand, Zalora. When it was still a lesser-known brand, it focused investments on building its brand through traditional and social media marketing across Facebook and search engines. Today, as the brand matures, Zalora invests more heavily in demand marketing through strategic brand partnerships and social commerce, while still investing in data-driven Google ad campaigns.  

Brand and Demand Marketing is the Ideal Couple and Content is a Compelling Aphrodisiac 

As we seek out tactics that will lead us to achieve a proper ratio, there has been a trusted hero of the brand-and-demand approach: Content. If brand and demand are the ideal couple to engage audiences, then content marketing is how we amplify the love story of the couple successfully.  

Experienced marketers know that one asset or social post does not result in a subscriber, let alone generate a lead. Trust takes time to develop, and the consistent cadence and drumbeat of a long-term content effort can help to build and nurture real relationships with audiences.  

Like those addictive Korean drama series, if you can produce a steady stream of engaging and compelling content throughout the customer journey, your audience will be more engaged, and your brand messaging and communication will become more appealing. When this consistent drumbeat aligns with memorable brand campaigns, you build brand recognition and earn loyalty across the marketing funnel. 

Through a strategic storyline approach, brands can extend their master narrative and create meaningful audience interactions throughout the entire funnel, ultimately nurturing prospects to conversion, recommendation and ultimately, loyalty. 

Take the Indonesia-based e-commerce platform, Tokopedia, for example. The brand has embedded K-pop in its marketing content to better target its younger and female segments across Indonesia since 2021. Not only did Tokopedia present K-pop groups BTS and BLACKPINK as the face of the brand, but it also created a long-term content strategy to feature Korean artists in its programs, campaigns and events to drive customer acquisition, engagement and sales. This creates a consistent customer experience, delivering key benefits to the target audience along every step of its customer journey, thereby building brand loyalty. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

During the mobile-first digital age, the new marketing benchmark requires an integrated strategy involving both brand building and demand marketing, calibrated to deliver impact based on the maturity of your brand. A balanced mix of both short- and long-term tactics is key to achieving uncommon growth.

At Prophet, we believe content is where brand meets demand – the sweet spot that fosters brand loyalists and fuels consistent ROI that compounds over time. Brand and demand marketing requires delivering a well-thought-out content strategy and cohesive customer experience. Download our global research report, Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story, to learn more.

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3 Ways to Out-Innovate the Downturn 

Prioritizing innovation is key to unlocking sustainable growth – particularly in turbulent times – and enabling this requires a new level of collaboration. 

Collaboration inspires innovation. It fuels growth and accelerates transformation. Yet with so many eyes focused on the turbulent economy, companies are losing sight of innovation’s value. As fear infuses corporate conversations, many are already using the uncertainty to justify putting innovation efforts on hold. They shift from finding new sources of growth to focusing on ways to shrink–what projects to mothball? Which budgets to cut? Which workers to eliminate? 

That short-sightedness is a mistake. History has shown us, again and again, that companies that move into head-down defensiveness miss out on the rich opportunities that downturns create. Competitors change course. Customer behavior shifts. Old needs fade, and new ones arise.  

Unless companies actively seek ways to boost innovation, collaborating throughout the organization to enrich new and better experiences, they’re missing out on transformative possibilities. Past recessions have given us innovative new companies and operating models, from the sharing economy to the crypto craze. And companies that look for new ways to grow, expand and transform consistently outperform the batten-down-the-hatches crowd. 

It takes collaborative muscle. Our recent research shows that companies can systematically build that strength. And those that do are more productive, finding relevant solutions that aren’t just novel but also high-impact and potentially transformative. 

Three places to begin right now are: 

1. Prioritize Customer Journeys, Not Functions or Departments 

Getting teams to work well beyond their silos isn’t a new problem. But it’s taken on outsized urgency as companies see themselves constantly outflanked by category disruptors. Departmental boundaries serve a role but also thwart flexibility, speed and innovative potential. They slow transformation. And the bad news is that our research shows hybrid workplaces are even worse at collaborative efforts. 

In most companies, people are still primarily evaluated and compensated on functional and departmental key performance indicators. Their work is often not even in alignment with organizational goals. Because there’s no formal or systematic recognition for interdepartmental teams, efforts fizzle out. In addition, customers continue to face disjointed products and services. They feel like they’re dealing with one brand in customer service or marketing but a completely different one in operations or sales. 

Solving this problem doesn’t necessarily require sweeping organizational changes. Companies can move toward this type of change starting with small pods, giving them a clear focus and the agency to test and prove new collaborative models.  

The more touchpoints and complexity a product or service contains, the more critical this step becomes. Prophet recently worked with a large purpose-driven financial services company, which wanted to provide better tools, programs and support for its financial advisors. It also wanted to ensure that each new offer and channel conveyed its purpose, whether it was a young family looking for a first insurance policy or older consumers focused on estate planning. Using a “pods and squads” model, we helped the company build small cross-functional teams focused on core customer needs. Viewing that work within the context of the company helped create a model that it could scale throughout the organization and overcome internal friction by finding a more seamless approach for advisors and end customers. 

Where to Start:  

Think small, with concrete and specific projects. While the ultimate goal might be to organize cross-functional teams for each segment of the company’s audience, individual pilots are more practical than ripping out all the plumbing. Create goals and objectives, restructuring KPIs around jobs to be done. This works by creating small wins, fueling the collaborative mindset. 

2. Maximize Principles, Minimize Process 

Truly collaborative organizations–not surprisingly, the most innovative–are powered by principles. It’s not that they don’t have rules and decision matrices to govern how work is done–they do. It’s just that they have overriding principles and values that are more important. These principles provide clarity and direction in ways process guidelines can’t. 

Google’s 20% Project is one of the most famous examples and has led the company to such innovations as Gmail and Google Maps. Others have turned similar side-project principles into ventures like Slack and Twitter.  

When principles guide companies, they become social norms–more potent than rule-based ways to make decisions. But there’s an art to settling on the correct principles. Too often, they’re vague, benign and become something tacked up on the office wall, like “Be nice” or “Listen to others.” 

Fluffy platitudes aren’t enough – principles must provide enough depth and structure to feel relevant and contextual. They should inform people as they consider, “What’s right for this company? This brand? In this moment?” And they further a company’s purpose, emphasizing simplicity, adaptability and sustainability. 

When there are rules, people cooperate. When there are principles, they collaborate–but they must find common ground between themselves, their colleagues and the company. Prophet’s Collaboration Flywheel Model™️ helps leaders and organizations move toward an environment that is sustainable and delivers more impactful outcomes faster over time 

For example, our recent work with CVS Kidney Care focused on translating its “culture of courage” into innovations to help millions of people suffering from kidney disease. We established principles for how the group wanted to work as a team, how to communicate, and how to share information.  

Our teams supported CVS Kidney Care in translating those goals into principles required to completely disrupt the kidney-care universe. Using two-week agile sprints to break down silos, we helped it focus on patient, caregiver and provider priorities. The result? A truly transformed experience for kidney patients, delivering personalized, seamless care with less time away from home and work–and improved health outcomes. 

Where to Start:  

Focus on team autonomy and team charters. Positioning these as the first steps in building team dynamics often makes a natural step to developing or redefining the Employee Value Proposition. The EVP can and should distill these ideas, connecting principles to brand promise. This kind of collaboration leads to EVPs that intersect beautifully with an organization’s overall purpose and each part of the company, from experience and innovation teams to brand and culture specialists. 

3. Play with Prototypes, Not Presentations 

If pictures are worth a thousand words, prototypes are worth a thousand user stories. People learn best by doing, so involving people throughout the organization in play sessions that let them roll up their sleeves will lead to more innovative and effective solutions than yet another 90-page PowerPoint. Embedding a maker mentality stimulates constructive conversation about new ideas, which are often hard to share and explain. 

Put simply, doing uncovers more wisdom than thinking. 

And yes, we get that it’s challenging to convince a C-suite focused on cutbacks and retrenching to step up their commitment to play. But it’s a crucial ingredient. Play opens people’s minds, facilitating new ways of thinking and doing. We often use Lego’s Serious Play in workshops to help people better connect their brains’ right and left sides. This co-creation opens collaborators’ minds, giving them a better sense of what is and isn’t possible. 

Iteratively building–testing and playing in this way–gets organizations to more efficient learning and definition. 

Adults aren’t good at it. The famous Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower is one of our favorite examples. When given a marshmallow, some dry spaghetti, tape and the instructions to build the tallest tower in 18 minutes, those with MBAs perform miserably. They assume there is a single best approach. They over-analyze. They jockey for power. As they run out of time, they realize their towers can’t support a marshmallow. 

Those that do best? Kindergartners. Their sturdy towers are taller and more varied–precisely because they prototype every step of the way.  

This playfulness solves another problem: Not all people in organizations perceive collaboration in the same way. Enthusiasm, and the perception of effectiveness and value of collaboration, vary by department and across regions. Why not make it more enjoyable? 

We recently did a project for a healthcare company that wanted to extend its reach among small and mid-sized medical practices. These providers offer excellent care but often lack the marketing resources of large practices. 

Before we started building things, we developed a series of interactive prototypes. Many people from departments as diverse as risk, compliance, finance and operations had the chance to play with the different options. They poked and prodded, turning solutions upside down. 

When a roomful of people hears remarks like, “This approach is more engaging, but it would mean we’d have to change X or Y to implement it,” there’s less friction between departments–everyone can see why collaboration is better. It highlights what is most valuable to the end user and why. 

Where to Start:  

Rapid prototyping doesn’t have to be elaborate. It should begin with sketching on paper. It should be dirty, ugly and fun. Exercises like mash-up innovation, how-now-wow and bad-idea brainstorms can be light exercises to generate initial concepts. Service storyboards and mood boards help and so does writing a make-believe press release for a hypothetical launch. Anything that involves the team in different ways to communicate ideas is helpful. 

Check out our most recent research – Building Business Resilience Through Innovation


FINAL THOUGHTS

Effective collaboration is essential in order to increase the pace and quality of innovation efforts across the organization. It is also one of the most meaningful aspects of employee engagement and personal growth. And that personal growth – learning new skills, extending networks and increased productivity – translates to the entire organization, helping enterprise goals to be achieved more quickly. In down markets, prioritizing collaboration gives companies an innovative advantage and delivers new and different sources of growth.

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Transformational Change is the Name of the Game

How to create a change-ready organization through a culture of play.

The past few years have felt like anything but a game – unless that game is Monopoly and you’re losing to your older sibling after landing on Park Place for the eighth time. In this case, the taunting sibling has more teeth: global pandemics, social reckonings and war. 

All of these factors have shaken people’s sense of safety, identity and trust. And these challenges have required companies in every industry to accelerate transformation—something that’s difficult in an environment where people are exhausted, frustrated and, at times, scared.  

Fortunately, many companies are heeding the call to take care of their people with 90% of employers reporting an increase in investment in mental health programs (come on, the other 10%!) according to Wellable Labs’ “2022 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report.” 

And while holistic well-being is incredibly important, work itself still lacks the humanity (the human beings in “well-being”) needed to sustain change. But that’s where play comes in. Forgive the pun, but it plays a part in the transformation.  

What is Play and How Does it Tie Into Transformation? 

Prophet’s Change Fitness Model reflects the different starting points for how companies see and address change, ranging from the transactional belief that “change is an obstacle to overcome” to the transformational state of play where transformation can be a sport to be enjoyed. 

You can think of play as “batteries not included.” Because, given the constant nature of change, those who have achieved play can spend less energy overcoming each effort and more time being fueled by it.  

So how do you get to the state of play? Exactly—you play!  

Scientists Meredith Van Vleet and Brooke Feeney define play as: A behavior or activity carried out with the goal of amusement and fun that involves an enthusiastic and in-the-moment attitude or approach, and is highly interactive among play partners or with the activity itself.  

Applying this lens to work clarifies the opportunity–making work that people enjoy, that brings out enthusiasm and deepens connections.  

The skeptic will say, “We don’t have time for play – we have work to do!” But those ahead of the curve see the intrinsic need to link the two. Better play means better work. In fact, in a 2019 study by Brigham Young University, teams that played video games together were 20% more productive than others.  

That’s because play unlocks creativity, helping people tap into new sources of inspiration and ways of thinking—which creates better solutions.  

And, especially at a time when the universe is playing chess with humanity, play creates sustainability and safety, encouraging people to enjoy what they’re doing, so they’ll want to do it more. And it deepens skill building, encouraging trial and growth in new ways. Checkmate. 

Of course, play is easier said than done and toxic environments will reject it. People can’t experiment if they believe their job or reputation is at risk. They won’t be themselves if they don’t like the people they’re working with. And they won’t prioritize play if they’re getting mixed or conflicting signals from leadership.  

Play shouldn’t be isolated to an innovation team, a single brainstorm, an occasional company outing nor the funniest person in the room. Play needs to take place across all levels and contexts – across a company’s culture, teams and individuals. Each reinforces the other with a company’s culture making it easier for teams to be able to play, and individuals bringing their whole selves to both innovation and the everyday.    

How to Create a Culture of Play Within Your Organization  

So how might you best implement a culture of play? We couldn’t not use the SMILE acronym, could we?  

Safe 

No one wants to play “the floor is lava” with actual lava. People need to feel safe in their environment. That means feeling confident that they can make mistakes and learn from them, not be punished by them.  

According to Peter Temes, founder and president of the Institute for Innovation in Large Organizations (ILO), “that hasn’t changed since we began this work 15 years ago, and probably hasn’t changed from decades prior to that—this idea of lowering the cost of failure.”  

Leaders can create safety by modeling and being transparent about failures and growth opportunities. Most importantly, leaders’ actions must speak louder than words – when individuals fail, they need to celebrate those learnings, not focus on the implications. 

Leaders can also help create a sense of safety through joy and levity in the workplace. Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, authors of “Humor, Seriously,” have shown that companies that embedded humor in their culture had employees who were 16% more likely to stay at their jobs feel engaged and experience satisfaction.  

Meaningful 

By nature, games have stakes and meaning – it’s what makes them exciting and, as defined above, creates the enthusiasm that creates play. Giving meaning to play can take many forms.  

One way is through reinforcing an organization’s purpose, helping people see why their work matters. Some companies create meaning through competition – whether individual incentives, team challenges or by focusing on external competition.  

One company created an internal fantasy league, resulting in an 18% increase in outbound calls and an increase in morale. Making play meaningful like this can be a great cause for celebration and recognition as well—reminding people about why they need to be invested in what they’re doing. Of course, “meaningful” must be rooted in safety – if people fear the stakes are too high, that fear can hold them back.  

Individual 

Everyone’s favorite radio station is WiiFM – “What’s in it for me.” Ask someone about a project they’re working on, and they might smile. But ask them what they did this weekend, and they’ll light up—even more so if they get to talk about personal hobbies or passions.  

Create more ways for people to light up, and you’ll create more ways to unlock that joy and translate it into their work and relationships. At a systemic level, consider how you’re fostering individuals’ passions and making them feel heard and represented. And at a team and day-to-day level, find ways to share them.  

Linked 

On the other side of the “individual” see-saw is the need to bring people together. Often, people have more fun working with other people, and collaboration creates those all-important feelings of togetherness and belonging. Prophet’s 2022 Catalysts research: The Collaborative Advantage finds that employees achieve better outcomes personally and professionally when they collaborate – 65% of respondents cited higher levels of productivity as a result.  

In hybrid environments, it becomes more challenging, where it may seem like people are working together on endless transactional Zoom calls. In reality, there is a shrinking emphasis on true connections which require smaller group interactions and a mix of both work-related and non-work-related focuses.  

Exploratory 

People need new inputs to get to new outputs. Trying a new dish can be more fun and exciting than eating the same meal for the fifth time this week. Consider how to fuel people’s joy and creativity by putting them in new situations, hearing from new voices or thinking about things in new ways. Then, use that space to give people a chance to get their hands dirty, safely.  

Build in the flexibility for exploration. A global airline used the power of play to teach the organization its seating pricing strategy. Leaders used a game of “The Flight is Right,” taking the principles of “The Price is Right” and applying it to the complex principles that airlines face. By approaching the learning in a new way, and allowing people to play and participate, the message stuck.  

LEGO’s serious play methodology is another great example of encouraging exploration to envision challenges in new ways while tapping into the joy of being a child.  

The creativity expert, Edward De Bono, describes “Rivers of Thinking” – the building nature of experiences that help us to unlock new solutions. When we fill our rivers with the same water, it becomes difficult to explore new ones.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

Play isn’t a moment in time or something you do outside of work. Organizations can use the power of play to create a sense of safety in the workplace, give employees a purpose, and build trust– all factors needed to accelerate transformational change in an organization. 

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How Does an Economic Downturn Impact Your Transformation?

When recession fears increase, companies usually pull back. However, the smart ones know that navigating turbulence builds resilience and exposes growth opportunities. 

News that global markets are either in or inching toward a recession is creating uncertainty, causing many companies to consider pausing or reducing transformation initiatives. However, history has shown that challenging economic times can often lead to the urgency that stimulates profound innovation.  

For decades, recessions have accelerated change and given birth to giants. Some examples include Hewlett Packard and Hilton in the 1950s; Microsoft in the ‘70s; and new economy brands like Uber, WhatsApp, Venmo, Instagram, Airbnb, Slack and Dropbox all roared into life during the Great Recession, which began in 2008.  

New platforms and operating models–from the sharing economy to subscription models to crypto–rise in times of uncertainty. And legacy companies may have a competitive advantage if they have the right components in place. These unpredictable markets offer unexpected opportunities for established companies. Consumers develop new needs and behaviors causing competitors to change tactics and reveal new white space opportunities.  

We’re not saying it’s easy to shift course to address these changes, but those ready to step up to the challenge often find exceptional growth, even when competitors struggle. 

Incumbents can significantly capitalize on this advantage if they start to act more nimbly, leveraging their strengths and leaning into risk. In many cases, consumer trust in their brand proves invaluable, giving legacy companies permission to capitalize on new consumer behavior with new business models.  

Organizations that have already started transformation efforts have a clear advantage. Many that were proactive during the pandemic have positioned themselves in a way that increases their chances in achieving new growth. This is especially true as they emerge from the downturn. But these organizations will need to address the scope and renewed urgency of change within this market by meeting it head-on and accelerating their transformation. Recessions alone are transformational – altering the economy, consumers and the competitive landscape. Just as the pandemic required adapting to new ways of shopping, working and doing business, this new terrain will undoubtedly bring its own paradigm shifts. 

While accelerating is crucial, the environment transformation leaders currently face is rife with risk. Leaders need to unlock ways to confidently readjust their transformation strategy and approach. 

The challenge to not only transform, but to do so at an accelerated pace in a down economy, requires a new approach. Mike Leiser, Prophet’s chief transformation officer, recommends leaders take a uniquely human view through the lens of our Human-Centered Transformation Model™. This model requires a shift in thinking that will help organizations unlock and accelerate transformation.  

“Businesses don’t change,” he tells us. “People change, and people change businesses.” 

This is particularly true for legacy companies. They often have the capacity to fund transformation but need to overcome significant obstacles, including older operating models and antiquated talent incentives. We suggest starting with some hard questions about each interrelated dimension.

Organizational DNA Focus on Core Transformation Strategies and Driving Near-Term Value 

Consumer needs and behaviors are dramatically different than those pre-pandemic, and it’s unclear how today’s inflation and rising interest rates will affect them over the next down cycle. These fundamental shifts will require leaders to evaluate their transformation priorities and roadmaps. However, with all areas of corporate spending increasingly under the microscope, transformation leaders will be called to show immediate impact and results. Very few companies will have the luxury of thinking in long-term “moon shots”, prevalent in stronger economies.  

To get a better sense of potential changes, Prophet reached out to several experienced transformation leaders who have weathered the storm of a past recession. One such veteran is Stephen Crowley, former SVP of ATM technology & operations at Bank of America, who found himself in the eye of the financial crisis in 2008. 

Crowley explained that, at the time, ATM and check depositing was still a modest business. But when it transformed toward digitizing 25% of all checking deposits, the effort became a massive, yet pivotal play to differentiate itself from other banks. The company radically accelerated its timeline, moving up goals and pouring support into an entirely new way of operating ATMs and check processing centers. 

He shared his key lessons in connection with successfully doubling down on the vision:   

  1. If you want to focus on the business case around transformation in this economy, concentrate on customer experience–people can defect quickly in a downturn. For Crowley, that required standing in front of a thousand ATMs to watch customers make deposits.   
  1. Think about what kind of paradigm shift is happening and what’s transformational about the process itself. From a timing perspective, Bank of America was positioned to succeed where others had previously failed because smartphone technology had caught up to facilitate the transformation. 

Questions to Help Clarify Transformation Strategy:  

  • How are customer and employee behaviors shifting? Spending habits? Lifestyle changes? Priorities?  
  • Are competitors creating new growth opportunities that fall under our North Star? Are there opportunities to divest non-core businesses? 
  • Is there a compelling business case, measurement and governance model for the transformation strategy as costs are being cut? Will this transformation help drive growth during a recession? And beyond?  
  • Given market changes, are the transformation vision and roadmap still relevant? Can it be executed faster? 

Organizational Mind and Body: Manage the Skillsets and Muscles Required for Change 

Within this environment of unknowns, it’s critical to understand how organizations will continue to drive momentum on transformational initiatives. That’s where the mind–the skillsets–and body–the operating model to support transformation–come in. In doing so, it’s essential for leaders to go beyond just thinking about processes for transformation.  

Leaders must understand their organization’s aptitude for change, which requires addressing past successes, underlying culture and the values that are going to introduce agility – particularly as leaders seek to accelerate transformation in this down market. 

Many organizations are already on this path, thanks to the pandemic. In a matter of months, they provided their workforces with new flexibility and upskilled them with digital collaboration tools, maintaining and even increasing productivity. Many organizations also expanded digital and online capacities to strengthen customer relationships and reconfigure supply chains. They did this by leaning into change and building organizational muscle. These organizations now know–as do their employees–that they can get through the storm and thrive. It gives them the confidence to do more in this environment, although the demands for organizational change will continue to evolve. 

In an uncertain, cost-sensitive market, leaders need to encourage unexpected, rapid solutions. Therefore cross-organizational collaboration is essential fuel for accelerated transformation, allowing leaders and teams to break down silos to creatively build new solutions for value – giving them the ability to do (exponentially) more with less.  

While this is still a challenge for most companies, our recent research finds that the more organizations promote this cross-functional work, the more successful they are. Employees see themselves as more productive and value the personal and professional growth that collaboration brings. 

Secondly, the organizational mind needs to be primed to succeed amid risk, especially in a recession. “When you reward employees for healthy risk-taking, there’s a willingness to try new things,” says Matthew Perry, former vice president of foodservice sales at Kellogg Company. This pro-risk perspective allowed Perry to establish notable food product innovations during the Great Recession – many of which developed from rapid ideation and experimentation. 

Perry believes succeeding in a down market requires empowering the workforce with new skillsets and growth opportunities. There are some clear actionable “mind” focused areas organizations can address to ensure employees are able to weather a down market environment:   

  1. Reward employees with healthy risk-taking and willingness to try new ways of solving problems. This will be a stretch for some who might not be suited to this environment, but, with the right support, many will be more willing to try. 
  2. Empower your workforce with new skillsets and personal growth opportunities that directly relate to the transformation at hand, making their role more relevant and connected to it. Additionally, make it clear that these skills encourage personal growth no matter what the ultimate outcome is. This is especially meaningful in tough times. 
  3. Encourage employees to lean into collaborative and cross-disciplinary teamwork. This speaks to the “body” and allows teams to action and accelerate transformation. When the environment demands that all leaders do more with less, encouraging employees to lean into collaborative, cross-disciplinary teamwork is a win-win. 

Questions to Build the Organizational Mind and Body: 

  • Do structures support transformation in an uncertain and fast-changing environment?  
  • What skills do we need to get where we need to be? 
  • Are teams and employees empowered to collaborate quickly to produce unexpected solutions in the face of market challenges? 
  • Where can more agility, integration and experimentation be encouraged? How are hybrid work policies helping or hindering collaboration? 
  • How are employees rewarded for actively stretching skillsets? For taking risks? 

Organizational Soul: Design Communication for Intentional Motivation, Connection and Comprehension 

Employees are every organization’s greatest resource. Teams who embrace and thrive during tumultuous times are key to transformational momentum. That’s why tracking and managing morale around transformation efforts is essential–the entire workforce is paying attention to what leaders say and what they do.

The past several years of change have often left employees too cynical to believe in transformational efforts. Couple this with informal information, and rumor mills go into overdrive, often based on real fears. “Will there be layoffs? Am I safe here?” It creates a significant barrier to realizing transformational goals. 

Communication is the best tool to emotionally manage change and build morale. We’ve found it’s essential to provide clear, consistent communication about the strategy, and it’s also important to honestly and transparently report how the transformation is going. Most of all, leaders must acknowledge all the people impacted by the change. Employees should feel connected and a part of it all. Taken together, this builds a culture of resiliency. 

Prophet’s recent research reveals a common trend: Accelerating transformation requires a motivated workforce with democratized decision-making. Leaders need to lean on mid-level and junior-level employees more heavily, meaning morale needs to be nurtured more carefully. 

Deepak Agarwal chief information officer at the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, shares that leading the digital transformation of a 27 thousand employee school district wouldn’t have been possible without an emphasis on strong communication. From 2008 to 2012, thousands of employees needed to adopt an entirely new set of operational and educational tools. He believes that the COVID-19 era has created a greater need for communication.  

“Leaders need to ask how they can make employees’ work and lives better as they support and adopt transformation initiatives,” he says. 

Agarwal sees three interrelated ways he successfully motivates colleagues and teams: 

  1. Leaders must provide strong communication systems and clear messaging about what changes are happening and when. Doing so will help employees engage during transformation. 
  2. Create better knowledge management systems to educate employees and train them. 
  3. Give employees better feedback tools so leaders can monitor how employees are feeling about the change.  

This approach allows employees to feel valued, valuable and motivated to drive transformation forward.   

Questions to Inspire Morale: 

  • How well are transformation messages getting through? How thoroughly do all employees understand progress reports? 
  • What is the process for making shifts in messaging when required? 
  • What can leaders do differently to strengthen the purposeful connection between employees and the transformation? 

Learn how to turn up your business in a downturn economy with Prophet’s Transformation Training.

Over the course of a one-day session, our team of Transformation professionals will evaluate your organization’s readiness for innovation and uncover near-term opportunities to accelerate your growth.

Please contact Kristen Groh, senior transformation partner, to host a Transformation Training with your team today!



FINAL THOUGHTS

As leaders look ahead to the next year, they will need to acknowledge that the latitude for risk is narrowing. Although nothing is certain, applying a Human-Centered Transformation Model™ allows leaders, particularly incumbents, to be more precise about their transformation. Transformations do pose risks, but there’s also a cost to failing to transform. Changing markets and customers require organizations that change, too. And those that transform effectively will achieve new growth and win against the competition. 

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The Equation for Growth in Healthcare: Customer-Centricity, New Skills and Balancing Brand and Demand

Prophet recently hosted a healthcare leadership roundtable, moderated by John Ellett, focused on driving uncommon growth in healthcare today. Read the takeaways.  

These were the takeaways from Prophet Healthcare’s leadership roundtable, moderated by John Ellett, which focused on driving uncommon growth in healthcare today.  

Attendees included: 

We convene for these discussions a few times a year so leaders from different subsectors and functions can compare notes and share insights. The latest session was all about growth – where it is coming from today, how senior marketers can make it happen and who needs to be on the team.  

Key Takeaways for CMOs and Growth Leaders Across the Healthcare Ecosystem 

Play the Long Game of Innovation 

In healthcare, innovation takes many forms – from new product launches and optimized experiences, to M&A and business model innovation. But no matter the approach, and whether we’re talking about startups or large enterprises, innovation requires both a long-term perspective and a sense of timing. It can take years to develop, say, breakthrough technology, but if the market’s not ready for it, new offerings might not take off.  

Relative to growth, innovation must be viewed in the context of core value propositions, as well as future impacts. That means knowing what really moves the business and understanding what innovation will deliver (e.g., future revenue gains, increased profitability, brand differentiation). The support of senior leadership is key to keeping the organization’s eyes on the prize across long time horizons.  

Solve for Talent 

Executives agree that talent is as important as ever, even as marketing becomes more tech-driven. A few firms were looking for more skilled strategists to set the direction for marketing. But more are looking for tactical and functional expertise to execute growth strategies. There was consensus that “even the best strategy needs worker bees.” Ideally, workers will be self-starters who understand big-picture objectives, think analytically and measure results. As with growth itself, there seems to be no such thing as too much talent. 

Focus on The Perennial Value of Customer-Centricity 

As much as marketing has changed, customers remain the perennial focus. Everyone agrees that customer insights should be the core of all growth strategies. But participants also noted that it’s easier to say “we’re customer-centric” than to integrate the voice of the customer throughout all brand and marketing efforts, especially when targeting new segments. Many felt CMOs are uniquely positioned to maintain the powerful link between such customer-centricity and growth, including building stronger customer communities. In fact, being a “customer advocate” might be the most important responsibility CMOs have. 

Recognize it Takes a Network 

As healthcare leaders face an ever-expanding range of growth possibilities, the importance of internal and external networks grows more important. Asking the right questions of mentors, peers and external advisors is key to staying ahead of important industry developments. Socializing and testing your own vision is just as important. A strong network can certainly provide tips and insights relative to engaging customers in new channels. On a larger scale, they can shed light on how new technologies, ecosystems and partnerships, as well as business models, will impact growth strategies over the longer term.  

Balance Brand and Demand 

Senior marketers and other growth-oriented leaders across industries are trying to balance brand-building and demand generation investments and activities. (Check out Prophet’s blog series on this very hot topic). Demand strategies are easier to measure, a huge advantage in the multi-channel digital world. However, because of the unique nature of healthcare where relationships are at a premium, brands remain critical to building trust with consumers and patients. 

One participant mentioned the classic formula of “40% demand and 60% brand,” but the optimal balance will vary based on an organization’s customer base, growth strategy and market position, among other factors. Because both “brand builder” and “performance marketer” are inherent parts of their job descriptions, CMOs must continue seeking the right balance, and recognize that it will evolve continually along with market conditions.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

From the most effective channels and platforms to new media that might emerge, to new rules for customer engagement, the only thing that seems certain about the future is that CMOs and growth leaders in healthcare will keep watching developments closely and comparing notes with peers and colleagues.  

If you’d like to participate in future healthcare roundtables, please reach out to Paul Schrimpf or John Ellett.  

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The Future of Your Organization is Human

People aren’t robots. In a changing environment, companies shouldn’t be robotic, either.

It’s a truth older than Darwin: The ability to adapt grows more valuable whenever uncertainty in the environment increases. With the world’s markets tiptoeing toward recession, companies have the opportunity to make their next evolutionary leap–the chance to become more human.  

We know –”more human” doesn’t exactly sound like how we’ve traditionally been taught to think about organizations. Businesses have spent the last two decades pursuing digital transformation and embracing artificial intelligence and advanced robotics–technologies that generally assume tasks previously reserved for humans. Additionally, business leaders have spent the last two centuries absorbing the Industrial Age organization theory, painting organizations as machines. 

However, enterprises are not machines and people can no longer pretend that they are. Organizations are living organisms with behaviors and abilities like the humans who staff them. 

The last few years have made that clear. Profits, while essential, aren’t all that matter. The market’s definition of success has shifted, and while people still expect organizations to make money, they increasingly value environmental sustainability, social equity and inclusion as well as efficiency. They expect human behavior–that means ethical, compassionate and transparent–from the companies they do business with.  

Organizations can’t behave like single-minded robots to thrive in this new era, marching mindlessly toward the next quarter’s financial results. They need to evolve and become more complex, adaptive and creative organisms.

Three Ways You Can Build an Adaptable Operating Model  

Adaptability is an acquired skill, and enterprises can take inspiration from our own human biology. We see three critical ways companies can evolve their operating model to become more adaptable and flexible, using the human body as a starting point.  

1. Distributed Intelligence 

People’s bodies can react quickly without involving the brain. Think about knee-jerk reflexes or yanking a hand away from a hot fire. 

Organizations do the same thing when they empower people to take action throughout the company instead of having all decisions centrally controlled by a handful of leaders.  

In a pharmaceutical company, for instance, engineers and planners can be embedded into production teams so they can deal with any issues locally, continually improving performance. The production quality gets improved locally and immediately, without involving the company’s central leadership. 

This pivot to decentralization is evident in flexible manufacturing. For the pharmaceutical industry, for example, this concept is increasingly important when using cell and gene therapies to make advanced biologics. Often, these drugs are aimed at small patient populations, especially in oncology. Manufacturing cells need to reconfigure quickly to respond to market needs and be first to market. 

It shouldn’t be local intelligence and action versus global intelligence and action. It’s about both. The human body has neurons in muscles, gut and extremities as well as the brain–and so do organizations.  

2. Learning Through Data 

Our brains learn through external stimuli, and people’s knowledge and capabilities represent everything they’ve individually learned or experienced. In other words, they are built by the data available to them through the senses. That’s why neural networks, modeled on the structures of human brains, can only be as smart as the training data available to the model. 

For organizations to be more nimble, they need better and more frequent access to data of all types. They need to develop robust “sensory organs”–mechanisms to ensure they intimately understand customers’ needs, wants and desires. And they need to feed that data (as real-time as possible) into organizational decision-making.  

That’s especially true for design functions, so that customer and employee experiences adapt to the needs of 21st-century consumers. Many companies believe they already do this, of course. But in adaptive enterprises, it is as natural as the human eye adapting to bright sunlight. 

Samsung has built regional design studios around the world, which leverage design thinking and market knowledge to rapidly innovate. With its main hub in San Francisco, its multidisciplinary designers help it tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley. That enables it to reign as Apple’s most formidable competitor.

3. Embrace the Ecosystem 

Humans are exquisitely social animals. Most of us cannot exist independently from one another. Societies are complex ecosystems, with people mutually dependent upon one another for survival. And as environments have changed, new civilizations have grown up in response to new human needs. 

In organizations, this spurs ever-expanding ideas about partnering and collaborating with other organizations. Technology incubation centers have spawned new developments–enabled by these networks and connections in ways that didn’t exist even a decade ago. It’s driven by sharing platforms– companies like Uber and Airbnb–and the subscription economy, led by companies like Salesforce and Apple. 

Thriving in a VUCA World 

There’s no escaping the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world we live in today. Organizations are still scrambling to embrace the changes wrought by the pandemic, including shifting customer values and hybrid workforces. And while the recession is by no means certain, rising inflation, energy costs and interest rates are pressuring consumer and B2B customers.  

But organizations are by no means helpless. These sweeping changes offer opportunities for evolution and adaptation. For some, it may even be the right time for organizational transformation, including a new approach to human-centric operating model design. And no matter what, this uncertainty requires an entirely new approach to collaboration, a holistic view of the organization that takes in a company’s eyes, ears, heart and soul–as well as its brain.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

Companies that want to thrive in a changing environment can do so by being less like the robots they used to be and more like the humans they serve.  

Want to understand how to put your organization on a path to become more human-centered? Get in touch with one of our experts. 

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Transform Your Financial Services Retail Experiences with These 9 Levers

9 key levers across 3 development stages, each enabling financial institutions to transform their retail experience towards the future.

In many Asian markets, financial services companies used to grow alongside the macro economy and compete heavily on products. But things are changing. Product innovation within established incumbents is becoming more difficult under a slowing economy and tighter regulations. Fintech companies are disrupting legacy brands – with offers across saving, credit, insurance and more. The new generation of consumers is increasingly looking for more than short-term returns. These macro shifts indicate that in the future of financial services, reimagining the customer experience and offering benefits beyond transactions will be critical in driving sustainable, ownable growth.  

Study1 shows that nearly 70% of Asian financial services companies understand the importance of “customer-centricity,” and are investing heavily to improve digitally enabled customer experiences (CX). Yet surprisingly, only 20% of customers consider FS companies providers of truly “customer-centric” experiences2. This gap is not a favorable truth but indicates a great opportunity for a company to take action and lead the future. We have identified nine key levers across three development stages that will enable financial institutions to transform their retail experiences for the future.

Fix the Basics: Become a Financial Services Company that Meets Customer Needs 

1. From “Experience” to “Branded Experience” 

Speed and convenience have become critical for customers in the modern digital world. But focusing efforts solely on “ease” also tends to create very similar sets of experiences and/or functions. So how can a company cut through the clutter?   

The answer is simple: brand. A solid brand strategy clearly defines what promise a company makes to its customers and how it uniquely delivers on the promise. Next, this will be translated into a brand identity system that closely aligns with the strategy and guides the development of truly ownable experiences.  

For many financial services companies, brand has not been considered and managed as a strategic asset. Therefore, before aspiring to create any signature experiences, companies need to build a solid foundation first by carefully looking into their brand strategy and identity to define their own experience principles. 

2. From “Product Distribution” to “Omni-Channel Experience” 

Internet companies and FinTech pioneers have disrupted and transformed the retail side of financial services (e.g. Ant Finance and Ascend Money). Many companies now rely heavily on these platforms to broaden their reach to retail customers. But platforms can be restricting, and the company could face constraints in building distinct experiences and owning customer relationships.  

As a solution, some leading companies have started to invest in their own digital ecosystem. For example, Fidelity created SmartRetire, a one-stop retirement solution platform. By building their own digital experience, companies can not only design and own the customer experience, but also collect data to enable targeted, more relevant engagements, that in turn can improve the customer journey in the long term.   

If creating owned ecosystem is not feasible in the short term, companies should at least build a holistic plan across touchpoints and identify opportunities to maximize owned experience and relationships. 

3. From “Experience as External Resources” to ‘Experience as Internal Center of Excellence” 

Many financial service providers leverage third-party vendors to deliver service and experience at lower costs. However, service quality could be at risk under this outsourcing model and differentiation could be harder to sustain if the vendor relationship is not exclusive.  

Companies should prioritize experiences that are most desirable to customers, viable to businesses and feasible to execute, building an internal “center” that breaks the silos, connect the dots and assures quality. A strong center of excellence enables great experience from within, bringing higher efficiency and sustainable competitive advantage in the long term.  

Excite with Experiences: Become a Financial Services Company that is Loved by Customers 

4. From ”Fill the Pits” to ”Elevate the Peaks” 

There could be a huge perception gap on “excellent customer experience.” Research3 shows that 80% of financial services companies believe they deliver excellent customer experiences, while only 8% of customers agree. One of the reasons behind this is that most companies focus only on fixing the pits upon functional pain points, but not on creating any peaks that delight and excite customers in memorable moments. 

Customer lifetime could be quite long in financial services. To become a company that customers choose, trust and love, companies must build a holistic view of the customer lifetime journey, by identifying and prioritizing moments that matter and creating signature experiences that customers truly desire.  

5. From ”Transactional Moment” to “Real Life Relationship”  

Many financial services companies are facing infrequent interactions and transactional relationships with customers. Research4 shows that 60% of Asian customers have had zero engagement with their financial service provider in the past 18 months.  

To go beyond the transactional moments, companies should look to expand their role and presence in other areas of customers’ everyday lives through partnerships and co-branded experiences. For example, Neo Bank MOX in Hong Kong partners with merchants favored by its customers and provides exclusive cash back. Another example is insurance company Beam, which partnered with a smart toothbrush brand and launched an oral health solution, offering premium incentives based on customers’ usage and behavioral data. 

Companies should take a broader view of the customer journey, identify opportunities to meet people where they are in life and enable their lifestyle beyond financial needs. With expanded partnership and engagement, companies could also build an enriched understanding of customers on top of transactional data and enable future products and service innovations. 

6. From “Data Enabled Personalization” to “Human Enabled Personalization” 

Research5 shows that 80% of financial service customers desire more personalized experiences. In Asia, customers are 1.5 times more willing than customers in Europe to share personal data in exchange for personalized experiences. Yet it takes time to build data and analytics capabilities that enable meaningful personalization at digital touchpoints. Customers in Asia also still desire a certain level of in-person engagement – even in younger customers, research6 shows more than half believe financial services are not human enough.  

So, while building data capabilities, companies should invest in empowering their front employees (e.g. RMs, agents) to deliver better, more relevant experiences with smarter tools and insights (e.g., need analysis, claim tracking). These tools should be designed not only to enable higher quality engagement but also to capture customer insights/data into the centralized database – to maintain customer understanding and relationships at risk of potential people turnover.  

Lead the Future: Go Beyond the Frame of Reference as a Traditional Player 

7. From “Proactiveness” to “Intelligence”  

Customers are increasingly sophisticated and their expectations will rapidly evolve. Being “proactive” will become a table-stake part of the experience and companies could aim to lead by creating “intelligent” experiences that are three steps ahead with AI technology. In 2021, HSBC HK saw 10 times higher engagement between relationship managers and customers when it leveraged AI to offer 22 thousand different sets of wealth management solution advice to individual retail customers7

Deep learning and hyper-personalization are among the top strategic priorities for CX leaders in 20228. Leading financial service companies should not only identify close-in use cases, such as product innovations or credit risk assessment but also stretch-out use cases that help the company go further into customers’ lives. 

8. From ”Valued Customers” to “Empowered Customers” 

Being “customer-centric” has been the center of gravity when creating experiences, but it still treats customers as “buyers,” in the position of receiving. As we move into the future, this relationship will be disrupted, and we will see customers as active stakeholders in deciding what type of experiences are created for them.  

Creating better experiences requires data, but customers are increasingly conscious of their privacy and the power of data ownership. Research9 shows that although Asian customers are more willing to share data in exchange for better service, 90% of them are concerned about data privacy and 84% of them desire more control over how their information is used.  

Leading companies should see this more as an opportunity than a challenge. Financial service brands should look at customers as empowered individuals, transform data collection into a “value exchange”, enhance data transparency with a sense of “co-ownership” and develop solutions and experiences through customer “co-creation.” 

9. From ”Boundaries” to ”Boundless” 

In the future world of Web 3.0, traditional boundaries will be blurred – online versus offline, virtual versus physical, consumers versus owners, etc. This boundless space will change how financial service companies organize and deliver value to customers throughout the lifecycle.  

The entire model of “financial services” might change in the context of this – the role of a company could transform from a “service provider” or a “transaction middleman”, to an ecosystem or a community that enables peer-to-peer connections and better decisions among employees, partners, and customers.   

The fast disruptions of fintech will never stop. Financial service companies should be open and embrace the changes to experiment with new ways of delivering value in the future, starting from small use cases.  

Data source:  

  1. Harvard business review, Taking the Financial Services Customer Experience to the Next Level
  2. Salesforce, Trends in the financial service industry
  3. Bain, How to achieve true customer-led growth and close the delivery gap
  4. Genesys, The era of 4.0 experience in Asia financial service industry
  5. Mckinsey, Future of Asia financial services
  6. Capgemini, The customer engagement imperative for financial services
  7. South China news portal, HSBC leverages smart analytics to develop new tools that enhance the personalized customer experience
  8. Genesys, the state of customer experience in financial services
  9. Warc, APAC consumers increasingly concerned about data privacy

FINAL THOUGHTS

With advancement in customers, technology and society, experience will become a critical driver of sustainable and transformational growth in the future. Financial services companies should take actions early and carefully assess which stage they are currently at, what levers they could invest in building towards the next stage and start with smaller test and learn today to lead the future.  

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Naming in Today’s White-Hot M&A Environment  

Learn the five best practices to get M&A naming right.

Despite the uncertainty of the global pandemic and recessionary outlook, M&A activity continues to surge across all industries, with a record $2.9 trillion in transactions in 2021, and 2022 is expected to be even bigger. While not every deal requires naming, the large transformation deals do. In these cases, a new name is the most visible, symbolic and longest-lasting M&A decision. It’s an opportunity to start fresh and signal unity to employees and customers alike. But shockingly, many companies still get it wrong. 

Getting to a great name in these fast-paced environments requires significant care and attention. What sometimes starts out as “let’s brainstorm and come up with something cool,” can often turn into a highly emotional, intensely subjective process that can create leadership friction and decision-making paralysis, ultimately delaying a brand’s launch.  

Following are five best practices to get M&A naming right.

1. M&A naming is not a democracy. 

Since naming a new enterprise is something many executives experience just once in their careers, many leaders don’t want to make the decision alone. So, they invite stakeholders from every angle to weigh in. However, there will likely already be numerous decision-making voices at the table—including multiple CEOs, private equity partners, other investors or board members. In these multi-stakeholder environments, we believe the decision-making body should be kept to the right balance of as few executives as possible, but as many as necessary, with focused participation early in the process (yes, even CEOs).  

Despite the perception that naming is a fun, creative exercise, the reality is that it’s a high-stakes, emotional decision that will carry your organization into the next several years, and maybe even the next several decades. With this in mind, getting lean on the decision-making team, and ensuring they’re active participants from the very beginning, will lead to a more successful outcome.   

We also recommend that clients resist the temptation to test name candidates with employees—while inclusion is a noble goal, this step gives employees a voice in the decision, rather than treating them as an audience we want to inspire with our ultimate reveal.  

2. The name you want is probably taken, but there’s a better name out there that isn’t. 

This one is a tough pill to swallow. But with most M&A deals being highly global, getting a name to clear across many trademark classes and geographies requires deep, divergent thinking. Yes, ‘Mosaic’ is taken. No, you cannot have the name ‘Fountain’. ‘Iris’ does indeed tell an intuitive metaphorical story, but four other organizations already beat you to it!  

While we wish it was easy enough to just call the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and ask for an exception, unfortunately, it’s not. But by exhausting creative exploration, you can uncover an adjacent or new idea that tells an even richer story. Sometimes that means you’ll get lucky with a simple, metaphorical real word that isn’t yet taken. Sometimes it’s about coining a gettable, “sticky” new word, and sometimes it takes getting comfortable with an idea that is more abstract—and more ownable. With an estimated 213 million companies in the world, naming isn’t just a creative game. It’s also a numbers game. And arriving at an answer that is inspired, strategic and viable requires diligence, objectivity and a willingness to push past your comfort zone. 

3. Every name has varying degrees of legal risk—but not every risk is a deal breaker.  

To add on to point #2, almost any name you consider will have some degree of risk associated. No name is ever given an ‘all clear,’ so getting legal involved early on can help you understand what degree of risk your organization is willing to take on, which will then influence the types of names explored. What’s more, different legal teams may employ different legal strategies to pursue or secure a name, from acquiring a mark to petitioning for co-usage with another party.  

When Google launched Alphabet, even an enterprise of their size and influence couldn’t clear the pure URL of alphabet.com or secure the pure ‘alphabet’ social handles, which were currently being used by other organizations with the same name, including a division of BMW. But Google believed Alphabet was the name that best represented the story they wanted to tell, so they went to market understanding there were legal risks associated with that name and launched with another URL—the very clever www.abc.xyz. All to say, legal baggage associated with your favorite names can be investigated and often worked around, as long as you have legal embedded in your process from the very beginning. 

4. Fast-paced M&A deadlines can work in favor of a successful naming outcome.  

With all the critical decision points and process gates leading to deal closings and ultimately a new brand launch, getting a name identified, cleared, designed and launched can feel like a daunting process. At Prophet, we believe sticking to an objective process and adhering to a thoughtful naming brief as the source of truth enables teams to use time pressure in a way that works in their favor. Having less time can actually be the forcing function teams need to evaluate ideas objectively, leave emotion and biases at the door and make quick, but meaningful decisions. When there is no time to second guess or decide by consensus, teams often trust their guts and arrive at impactful answers. 

5. And finally, remember that a name is a powerful asset—but not the only asset. 

Although we always say your name is your most visible asset, it is not your only asset. This is especially important in M&A environments, where there are multiple parties coming together under a shared value proposition that is oftentimes broader and more aspirational than their previous strategies or stories. While the name can certainly signal part of this new experience, it cannot tell the complete story on its own. We help clients see their name in the context of other strategic levers, like the promise they make to their customers, their visual language, or the experiences they aim to create.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

Naming in M&A environments poses its own challenges but launching a new brand at this scale and on the global stage—and doing so with a name you feel confident in and inspired by—is a deeply rewarding experience.  

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Enabling Effective Collaboration in SEA: The Way Forward 

Our research shows companies in SEA value collaboration but lag in execution. Learn how to close the gap. 

More than ever, collaboration is top of mind as companies ease out of the pandemic and build towards a new normal. The past few years showed us the challenges of collaborating amid changing COVID-19 restrictions and hybrid setups. However, they have also shown us the transformative potential that can be unlocked via technology, agility and a human-centered approach.  

In Southeast Asia in particular, effective collaboration is paramount to unite a diverse set of countries and strive towards a common goal. But this is not without its challenges. The region continues to struggle with heightened competition for talent, fluctuating COVID-19 policies and different development stages of hybrid work in an ever-competitive market landscape. Moreover, collaboration in SEA can be particularly challenging due to a number of characteristics unique to the region: varying cultural and language backgrounds of employees, different levels of economic development across the region, nascent stages of digital transformation and – for international corporations – a wider cultural difference between HQ and regional offices.  

Despite, or perhaps because of these challenges, our 2022 global research report, “Catalysts: The Collaborative Advantage”, shows that SEA companies value collaboration more than other regions (52% versus 44% globally).  

Diagram 1: Value of Cross-Organizational Collaboration 

However, only 28% of SEA respondents feel they are very effective at collaboration across their organization.  

Diagram 2: Effectiveness of Cross-Organizational Collaboration 

How can the region work to close the gap and reap the benefits of strong, cross-organization collaboration?  

The Collaboration Flywheel 

A key output of this year’s “Catalysts” report, Prophet’s annual global culture research study, is the Collaboration Flywheel, a model that reveals a path for leaders and organizations to prioritize and accelerate the efforts to build their collaborative muscle.  

The metaphor of a flywheel helps capture the inherent complexity of the adaptive system that is organizational culture. A flywheel works by reinforcing positive behaviors and outcomes while minimizing negative feedback loops, thus building and maintaining momentum over time. Most importantly, each specific action we’ve identified in the Collaboration Flywheel model helps deliver better, more impactful outcomes more quickly. 

Using this framework, we can understand how SEA can leverage its strengths and unique regional characteristics to drive greater organizational effectiveness.  

Diagram 3: The Collaboration Flywheel 

1. Coordination 

The first phase in the Collaboration Flywheel is Coordination. This is where many organizations begin their development journey by empowering groups to work horizontally rather than just in their vertical silos. Coordination centers on connecting an employee’s effort to the larger picture – the organization’s purpose – and modeling “what good looks like.”  

In our research, when compared to respondents in other regions, SEA respondents were more likely to emphasize the importance of connecting individual work to the organization’s purpose. In SEA, 75% of respondents believe it is important to be able to connect their work to the company’s business strategy, however, only 36% think they are able to effectively contribute to the organization’s purpose.  

Diagram 4: Value versus effectiveness When Connecting Employee Work to Business Strategy 

While many factors can inhibit an individual’s ability to contribute to the organization’s purpose, we see the three biggest factors in the region as top-down management styles, lack of understanding of “what good looks like” and early stages of digitalization. To overcome these hurdles, companies can enable cross-organization coordination by empowering decision-making at lower levels of the organization, showcasing best practices and pushing the digital transformation agenda forward.  

In 2017, MB Bank, one of the largest financial services groups in Vietnam, set up a new digital bank as an independent business unit, separate from its legacy bank. This radical approach to digital transformation helped MB Bank’s speed to market, but it also made coordination between the two BUs challenging. Employees knew the bank’s digital transformation goal, but those in the legacy bank couldn’t always contribute to it.  

MB Bank recognized this disconnect and saw the impact it had on employee coordination and how that translated into the customer experience. By leveraging digital transformation to instill agility and a more nimble way of working across the organization, MB Bank was able to transform its legacy bank, driving the efficiency of its operating model and increasing cross-organization coordination. To further create a culture of collaboration, the company focused on shifting the mindset of its people, encouraging an entrepreneurial and agile approach that embraces risks and a fail-fast new culture. This has propelled MB Bank today to become the fastest growing and most digital bank in Vietnam.  

2. Cooperation 

The next phase is Cooperation, which builds on coordination by adding trust and shared ways of working. It is characterized by clarity of objectives, capability building and incentive alignment. 

Relative to other regions, SEA respondents place more emphasis on aligned incentives as necessary means for collaboration. In our research, 78% believe incentive alignment is important to collaboration effectiveness, and a quarter believe incentive misalignment is also one of the biggest barriers to achieving this goal. 

Diagram 5: Value versus. Effectiveness When Aligning Incentives That Encourage Cross-Organizational Collaboration 

Keeping in mind SEA’s highly diverse workforce, the definition of a good incentive can vary widely.  

For example, companies in more developed countries such as Singapore, tend to consider soft incentives (benefits, training, recognition, etc.). However, companies in developing countries such as Vietnam, often prioritize hard monetary incentives. Beyond cultural differences, unrelated parts of the organization are often incentivized by siloed outcomes and metrics of success, making cooperation difficult. To solve this, companies can enable cross-organization cooperation by aligning incentives with relevant business outcomes that build towards a common goal, while taking cultural nuances into account. 

In 2020, HSBC merged its retail banking, wealth management and global private banking into a new global wealth and personal banking unit. This change in the organizational structure allowed for greater operational efficiency, reducing redundancies and combining related capabilities, talent and infrastructure resources. By breaking down silos and creating a shared mindset around collectively achieving goals, HSBC was able to reduce cooperation barriers to drive more effective client outcomes. 

3. Collaboration 

As cooperation builds interdependence and synergy between formerly independent groups, it creates the opportunity to pilot and embed new ways of working. In the Collaboration stage, leaders reward progress – not just outcomes – and there is a culture of evaluating both process and priorities within the context of the organization’s purpose. 

When compared to other regions, SEA is better at both recognizing and rewarding cross-organization progress. Almost half (41%) of SEA respondents believe their organization is good at recognizing and rewarding progress. However, to enable effective cross-organizational collaboration, organizations need to both recognize progress and be open to constructively challenging the ways things are done.  

Diagram 6: Value versus. Effectiveness When Recognizing and Rewarding Cross-Organizational Progress, Not Just Outcomes 

Many of the companies in the region tend to be more traditional in their approach to workplace organization and culture, emphasizing their top and bottom line over individual wellbeing. This is especially true for small and medium enterprises, which make up 97% of all businesses in the region. This conventional mindset often inhibits individuals from innovating new, more effective ways of working.  

To open the door for innovation, employers can empower employees to think critically about how they can better contribute to the organization’s purpose and be innovative in their ways of working. By allowing a more bottoms-up approach to organizational culture, employers will not only see more effective outcomes in the market but will also make their workplace more attractive to employees. This can be achieved through test-and-learn environments where employees can propose new ways of working and implement integrated planning processes where functions can share wins, risks and priorities. And if the organization is in the midst of a transformation, this is where setting up a Transformation Management Office (TMO) to connect different parts of the organization around a unified set of goals can take place.  

Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has adopted a flat, tech-like organizational structure that gives semi-autonomy to its sub-groups. This enables the agency to have not only speed to market, but also high levels of collaboration across the groups. In addition, when recruiting, GovTech specifically looks for a sense of learning agility in candidates, ensuring its employees are eager to adapt, pivot and stay ahead of the trends. This internal culture of collaboration helps GovTech stay competitive with other tech startups and incumbents that prospective employees might be considering. The results are astoundingly impactful: In 2021, 99% of citizens surveyed expressed satisfaction with the overall quality of Singapore’s government digital services.  

At Prophet, we believe that people are at the core of any organization. And people working together collaboratively is what drives change, delivers results and sets organizations apart. SEA faces unique challenges: from its uneven regional economic development to its early stages of digital transformation to the diversity in its workforce. However, these present an even more pressing need for organizations in the region to build towards a culture of collaboration. By using Prophet’s Collaboration Flywheel, organizations can work towards:  

  • Coordination: Illustrate the linkage between an employee’s individual effort and the organization’s purpose. Guide individuals by showcasing “what good looks like” and giving decision-making authority to lower levels, while leveraging digital transformation as an enabler.
  • Cooperation: Align incentives across the organization, balancing differing definitions of what a “good” incentive is. Take these cultural differences into account to create incentives as well as a shared mindset that collectively achieves unified goals.
  • Collaboration: Focus on the process, not just outcomes to make room for more agile thinking which allows synergies and interdependences to form. Empower employees through a bottoms-up, test-and-learn approach that encourages them to challenge the status quo and implement new, fresh ways of thinking. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Prophet’s 2022 global research report, “Catalysts: The Collaborative Advantage,” aims to help companies better understand how effective collaboration works and identify opportunities for growth. To learn more about how insights from the report can apply to your organization and your region, contact our team today. 

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Powering Positive Impact: A Recap of Prophet Impact Day 2022 

Reflecting on our firm’s annual volunteer day and our goal to drive positive impact in our societies. 

On Friday, July 15, over 435 Prophet employees around the globe gave back to their local communities as part of Prophet Impact Day—an annual event where our entire firm pauses and focuses on elevating the work of organizations that are making a positive impact in our societies. 

The last few years have presented significant societal, economic and environmental challenges and, of course, a global pandemic. While we have reinvented what Prophet Impact Day (previously known as P4NP) means for us as individuals and as a firm, we remain committed to taking on these challenges head-on and doing our part to amplify the work of nonprofit organizations where we live and work. In broadening the scope of this volunteer day, we have a renewed focus on addressing the causes that our employees are most passionate about: sustainability, equality and social mobility. 

This year, on our 8th annual Prophet Impact Day, we partnered with over 25 organizations and dedicated over 1400 hours to create an impact in our communities.  

Propheteers engaged in a wide array of activities this year supporting a diverse range of causes: 

  • Sorting donations and preparing meals to help underserved communities in Atlanta, Richmond, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong  
  • Remodeling temporary shelters for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Berlin
  • Getting our hands dirty in efforts to help community farms and keep parks and beaches clean in London, Singapore, Zurich and San Francisco 
  • Empowering the next generation of young leaders in Austin and Shanghai  
  • Using our business expertise to consult local nonprofits–including Florham Park Educational Fund, Charlotte Rescue Mission, Alaina’s Voice and Austin Pets Alive– to help them grow and achieve their missions.  

Whether our employees were in-person, virtual, working in groups or independently, Propheteers across the firm had flexible opportunities to support the causes they’re passionate about. Prophet Impact Day also provided a chance for our teams to connect with colleagues outside of the regular day-to-day, building new relationships and nurturing old ones.  

“It was so energizing to see the photos and hear a bit about the experiences that were shared around the globe. It’s this type of leadership, sense of understanding, empathy and excellence in our work that makes me extremely proud of our firm and what we can accomplish together.”

Michael Dunn

FINAL THOUGHTS

With our ever-growing headcount, we continue to find ways to build participation in our offices and give our teams the opportunity to make their own impact. With the world more in need than ever before, we continue to look for more ways to make a difference in our local communities through our Prophet Impact initiatives including volunteer time off, our pro-bono program and beyond. Together with our partners, we strive to build a healthier, more compassionate, more just world. 

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