Seth Godin, in his newest book Linchpin, makes a point of saying that to be a Linchpin and make a difference within an organization you have to be willing to “give up being loved”. But how can you afford to give up being loved when you work in a company that is a matrix organization and your performance review is based on feedback from others inside and outside your team ?
The first thing to do is to realize that change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. This is kind of hard to accept because the marketing environment is changing so dramatically that a lot of brands could be left behind but people adapt to slow change rather than revolutionary change.
The other key aspect of implementing a Linchpin mentality to remember is that you can’t do it alone. At a recent day of meetings with a client and his people I started off each meeting by asking “what is the objective of this meeting and how does it add value to our brand/customer ? There were times when some people could not answer those questions and thus the meetings were short ones.
I have found that the best way to be a Linchpin is to:
1. Have one on one meeting with key influencers within the company to communicate what I am trying to do. These are the people that can quickly sink anything you want to be because they are resistance.
2. Share with people key insights into the changing consumer/business environment but also include “what this means to us” and “recommendations” to leverage changes.
3. Review processes and ask everyone “is this really adding value to our shareholder and more importantly our customers ? You’d be surprised how many processes revolve around what’s best for the company not what’s best for your customers.
4. Try and reduce the number of meetings. Too many meetings can lead to analysis paralysis and decision making that is so spread out that there is no accountability. Why have a meeting when you can meet with someone in their office for a few minutes and get their buy-in. Also only invite key influencers and decision makers don’t invite people who have hidden agendas such as “this is going to create more work for me”.
5. Finally, before you decide to pitch any new ideas make sure that your presentation does not come as a surprise. As you develop you presentation solicit input from people above and below you. Listen to what is really being said when they give you suggestions.
It can be really frustrating to implement change so slowly but in most companies you are dealing with a complex management structure and individuals who may not have the best interests of the company or its brand at heart.