What You Encourage

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Back in 1997, I accepted a position as a Group Brand Manager for a Fortune 200 company that shall remain nameless.

My start date coincided with the annual marketing planning process. Here’s the arc of a conversation I had with a well-meaning co-worker (WMCW) during my third week:

WMCW: You have to sign up for at least a 10% growth objective.

Me: What do you mean, “have to”?

WMCW: That’s what leadership wants to see.

Me: I’ve got no product news, no budget and a parity product in a flat category. There’s no way I can commit to 10%.

WMCW: I’m not saying you have to believe it. I’m saying that’s how it is here.

Me: So leadership would rather we put 10% on paper than achieve 10% in real life?

WMCW: You’re catching on.

When the starting point is nonsense, the entire planning process is a farce. A better approach – and it’s not rocket science – would be to allow each brand manager to build his or her way to a credible objective; to own the thinking, the process and the outcomes.

Leadership, a quick reminder:

You get the thinking that you encourage.

If you’ve hired good people, encourage and allow them to own their areas of responsibility. You’ll be pleasantly surprised more often than not.

If you’ve not hired good people, why is that?

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He calls Chicago home.

Copyright 2016 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.