Last week I found myself at the GE Healthcare Institute listening to a lecture on CAP. We were privileged to have an adjunct professor from the John F. Welch Leadership Development Center. General Electric (GE) is the creator of CAP, which is defined by the Harvard Business Review as “a process the equips leaders with a proven method of managing change and prepares them to succeed as change agents.”
If you’re in commercial marketing and are responsible for planning and executing strategic programs, then I’d argue that you should be an excellent change agent. It’s not enough to be the “smartest” or “most strategic.” Leave that for the academics. We marketeers, who make a living out of our profession, need to increase the probability of success of all our programs. CAP provides a model to achieve this end.
Why do marketing programs succeed or fail?
As I look back over the 18-years of commercial experience, the marketing programs that have worked out were well executed, by design. The others that have been sub-optimal were because they did not have the appropriate organizational – people – support. Top of mind on my list of “wish I could take that back” are:
- New segmentation models that failed to materialize past the binder that was handed out.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation with very little adherence to reporting.
- Pricing strategies contingent on customer type, which had no governance.
- A joint venture with a dual sales distribution plans that were not aligned on incentives.
- The list can unfortunately go on, and on…
As I reflect on these, I realize that people issues are the biggest challenge through the execution phase. People naturally resist change. When we attempt to roll out new programs to our teams (direct reports, sales, operations, compensation, etc.) we are faced with the same human resistance. As marketers, we must plan for success with this background in mind. Only then will our programs have an opportunity to be executed or even stand a chance of delivering on our objectives.
The CAP model can help
CAP is a handy tool that can be applied to any change we seek to implement. As a marketer, I should see all my initiatives as change, particularly large programs, because at the core of it I am seeking a group of people to embrace, support and respond to the marketing programs.
Keep these 7 CAP phases in mind as you’re planning your next marketing program:
- Find leaders for the change. Have a program sponsor/champion and the right team members who demonstrate visible, active, public commitment and support of the change. People who walk the talk.
- Create a stakeholder-shared need. A compelling reason to change, whether motivated by threat or opportunity, is instilled within the organization and widely shared through data, demonstration or demand. Stakeholders need to be part of the need creation, no one likes to be told what to do, they want to be part of the solution – capitalize on this.
- Create and communicate a vision, with input from stakeholders, early on the process. The desired outcome of change is clear, legitimate, widely understood. Outline your behavioral expectations for all stakeholders – define success in behavioral terms.
- Mobilize commitment, down to the lowest levels. Demand a strong commitment from constituents to invest in change, make it work, and provide the appropriate senior management attention. Constituents commit to change and new standards.
- Help to make the change last. Provide communication vehicles for change and learnings to be transferred throughout the organization. Early wins are publicized to build momentum for the change.
- Monitor the progress. Progress is benchmarked and realized. Create relevant metrics by stakeholders to ensure accountability.
- Changing the systems and structures. Making sure that the management practices (staffing, development, rewards, measures, communication, organizational design, IT, etc…) are used to complement and reinforce change.
Utilize these steps as guides. CAP is a way of leading, not just a simple list. Your success will largely depend on your planning of the change and how you move your projects through these phases. Try it! I guarantee you more success!!!
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