As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus surmised nearly 2,000 years ago, change is the only constant. To ensure optimal performance of the marketing function and to maximize its business contribution in line with strategic priorities, the CMO needs to be capable of leading marketing change and transformation.
Our 2016 survey of more than 270 CMOs identified that 86 percent of CMOs are planning to undertake organizational changes in response to a mix of internal and external drivers (e.g. mergers and acquisitions in support of new business models, creating efficiencies, scaling for growth). Our research shows that CMOs must also react to drivers for strategic change. Top drivers ranked by CMOs include adapting to a change in economic conditions, changing to enhance customer experience, changing to enhance partner channel capabilities and changing to revise routes to market.
To succeed in such a dynamic environment, the CMO must be capable of reacting correctly. Crucial to this is ensuring the marketing strategy (and its constituent elements) is aligned with the organizational structure (e.g. processes, workflows, capabilities). This is often the ultimate balancing act for the CMO in responding to change, not least because changes in strategy have a direct effect on organizational structure and vice versa. For example, in responding to a rebranding transformation brought about by an acquisition, the CMO cannot consider the rebranding strategy without also considering the structural implications and the need to integrate multiple marketing functions across two organisations.
To achieve balance and alignment, and to support CMOs in their leadership challenge of driving change, SiriusDecisions has recently launched a new change management framework. This best practice model helps the CMO through the process of transformation, resisting the commonplace response of treating change as an event. Designed for leaders managing transitions, this practical model breaks down the change effort into four sequential phases – scoping, planning, managing and embedding. In each phase, the CMO is responsible for specific actions:
Effective communication skills and core leadership qualities are the foundational elements underpinning this process. And the CMO must master both. Leaders who successfully transform their organizations take the appropriate actions – in the correct sequence – to enact lasting change.
The ongoing test for the CMO is to ensure that any change maintains the fit and alignment of strategy and structure. Designing this into the early stages of the change effort is crucial to maintaining this balance. We recommend regular stress testing of this fit. The CMO must ensure strategic and structural alignment on a constant basis.
Are you embarking on a marketing transformation or a process of embedding change? Do you wrestle to keep your marketing structure and strategy aligned to meet constantly evolving business goals? Why not start a conversation with us in the comments section, or contact us to explore further? We would love to share our perspectives and insights with you at our 2017 Summit, which will include a session on “Change Management and the Revenue Engine.”
Caroline Bright is a Research Director for European CMO Strategies at SiriusDecisions. An accomplished b-to-b global marketing director and commercial leader with 15 years of experience in FTSE 100 multinational environments, she brings expertise in driving marketing-led strategic change, tackling complex market and organizational challenges, creating cultures for marketing success, integrating global and regional acquisitions, and developing and implementing international marketing and branding strategies. Follow her on Twitter @bright_ce.