Beware the Silent Resistance

13 May 2015
Katz Kiely
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A surprising number of global multi-brands consist of local offices that operate pretty well autonomously: spending their individual budgets on their own agencies to create their own content to post on their own website. There is a tremendous amount of money spent on reinventing the wheel … and the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing.

More surprisingly, the company HQ often has no idea how much is being spent globally on those myriad agencies.

But they are beginning to realise that enterprise technologies allow them to centralise content production and can allow everyone to use shared enterprise platforms

Kerching. Exciting stuff.

But let’s zoom out for a second and look at the big picture through a couple of different lenses.

I’m the key enterprise business sponsor. To me, centralisation can only mean good things, right? All I need to do is buy the right technical platform, and boom - just imagine the amount of money we are going to save!

It will save everyone time and stretch their budgets. How could everyone not be delighted.

Onto Global Brand Manager. This centralisation project will mean for the first time ever, I’ll be able to have complete control of my brand. I’ll be able to make sure my brand is consistent wherever people touch it. I will be able to track exactly who has done what with my content, where and when.

Hoorah! On first glance, Ms Global Brand Manager is as delighted as the business sponsor.

I’m a Local Brand Manager, in a small market. My budget is keeps on dwindling. Having to make my own content within ever shrinking budgets is becoming increasingly difficult. Centralisation will give me access to quality global content, freeing up money for other things.

Bring it on!

But wait… not everybody is so delighted.

Let’s say I’m a Brand Manager from a big regional market. I’ve always done things my own way. I enjoy my relationships with a myriad agencies and have big enough budget to generate 100% of my own content.

The business function is now telling me that we have to operate as an “enterprise”. Global brands will apparently produce all of the content and we will all have to use the same platform, for all of our websites.

From being a commissioner, I will suddenly become a repurposer. This is not the job I signed up for.

Marketers, hired to do one job, are suddenly being asked to do something completely different - and lets face it  less interesting. To add insult to injury, everything they do will be tracked by Global.

People like creative control. They do not like being tracked. This does not feel good.

These people will resist the change at best, and at worst may start scouring the market for a new position that gives them what they want.

These centralisation projects can lead to rebellion and damaging talent drains: a massive enterprise challenge that enterprise may not be prepared for.

Let’s scratch below the surface of the Global Brand Managers apparent delight.

Before this change, they might have complained about a lack of visibility and brand inconsistencies. They may have moaned that they had no control over what their global colleagues were up to.

But if we look closer, the picture looks slightly different.

Their apparent delight may mask a niggling truth.

If it’s impossible to see something, it’s impossible to be responsible for it. If effectiveness can’t be measured,  inefficiency can’t be penalised.

These hidden irks often lead to unexpected, and even worse silent, resistance. This hidden resistance can derail a global project.

Trying to drive enterprise behaviours in an organisation of autonomous, disconnected units with different needs and views of the world is more difficult than it might at first appear.

Successful change is supported by bespoke engagement plans using audience-centric messaging that speaks to each stakeholder group in a way that makes sense to them. The most successful engagement plans are created with, and owned by, influencers across the organisation.

Woe betides the company that assumes technology will just embed itself. Driving technology adoption is a challenge as complex as your organisation. It’s not easy and it takes time.