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How process leads to the idea

4 min read


Jeffrey Hayzlett is a best-selling author, maverick marketer and sometime cowboy. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity and former Fortune 100 C-suite executive. He is a well-traveled public speaker, author of the best-selling book “The Mirror Test,” celebrity editor to one of the largest-circulation business publications and one of the most compelling figures in global business. He recently released “Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change and Grow Profits.”

“It’s not that Jeff doesn’t care about ideas, it’s just that he knows those are byproducts of performing the CMO job as a true leader.” That’s what’s Drew Neisser wrote about me, and what that means is it all comes down to process. Some people get caught up in the idea rather than the process, but I think the process leads to the idea.

Change agents know what most business leaders often find out the hard way: When companies are growing rapidly and changing dramatically, things can easily go awry. That’s why change agents, before they shake things up, like to get things under control.

I may be Mr. Contrarian, the guy who challenges accepted wisdom, strives to change everything and likes to talk about the elephants in the room. But I am completely committed to putting in place systematic processes as part of driving change. Why? Because I don’t want to think about operations all the time. I don’t want to keep thinking about process. I want to put in place and move on.

For a variety of reasons, my idea of process is often not an easy sell. Some companies think their current processes work just fine — even if they can’t articulate clearly just what those processes might be. Sometimes my processes are viewed as old-fashioned — but some of the best things in life, like ice cream or a good steak, usually are. Some tell me they don’t want to be “limited” by process, but I’ve seen chickens running with their heads cut off. Is that what you want for your company?

It is vitally important to get your team aligned and in agreement regarding your goals, methods and metrics in a way that works for you, your company and what you stand for. Whether you are innovating with new products and services, tapping new technologies or shifting a brand and its image, corporate change and transformation of your business model is hard enough to manage if you have no model for managing the operations to support those innovations. No identifiable call-to-action to rally your people. No way for them to remember what you stand for.

Business leaders must look inside their companies and give everyone a common rallying point. The foundation for this is not found in data analysis or deployment of new technologies. And you can’t just “create” a culture by saying, “This is what it is.” Corporate culture is made up of too many different parts and is created over time. But operations are different. That’s what you can change first and then say, “This is how we respond together,” to drive the change.

Whether I’m building a team of motivated marketers, smooth salespeople or anything else, my first job is not getting them to sell the product; it’s developing the process for them to work together. I don’t care if your team consists of two or 2,000, if they’re not working together, the game is over. It doesn’t matter what your product is. It doesn’t matter how many fancy charts and reports you have. It doesn’t matter if you have slick brochures and a colorful website and 1 million social media connections.

With good processes, everyone will always know if they are in alignment with your goals and how far they’ve come or fallen. They become more responsible and accountable to the promises the company makes.

Image credit: s_john79, via iStockphoto