My Story #19 [P&G] How to make decisions with limited data

My Story #19 [P&G] How to make decisions with limited data

Desi Jagger's Blog

My Story #19 [P&G] How to make decisions with limited data

I wanted to implement some new in-store claims for our brand. The effectiveness of these claims was supported with internal data. I created a mockup shelf and brought it to the next team meeting for feedback.

The beauty of working in multi-functional teams was having access to experts and getting a variety of perspectives. I took the team’s feedback onboard and, at the next team meeting, presented what I believed would be the final version of the shelf claims. Easy, right?

 

Not quite, as it turned out. Everyone was excited about these new shelf claims. They wanted them to be perfect. Perfect meant proven to grow sales. Proven meant backed by data. We already had some data from the claim tests, but this was deemed insufficient. Insufficiency led to insecurity, which opened the door to a myriad of suggestions: “What if we change this color?”, “What if we change the wording?”, “I have seen data supporting another set of claims. Let’s dig into which data is more reliable…”

I was curious at first – it wouldn’t hurt to explore a few more options. I proposed another version, and then another… soon I couldn’t keep track of the latest file. The discussion spilled out of our team and crept into senior management reviews, where even more experts contributed even more opinions. We even had a vice president weighing in. It was a catch-22: we needed data proof before implementing the claims but we could only get this data after the claims were implemented in-store. Whilst we were stuck in this theoretical debate, the consumer was stuck with the old shelf claims.

 

Six painful months and no conclusive proof of the superiority of any of the versions, we simply chose one and rolled it out across stores. The following week, our competitors followed. Apparently they trusted us more than we trusted ourselves.

 

Get unstuck by choosing one option and moving forward. It may not be perfect but most times you can learn (from real data) and adapt along the way.

 

Are you stuck for lack of data? Coaching can help you explore different ways of qualifying ideas so you can move forward. Discover how by booking your free consultation now.

My Story #18 [P&G] When push doesn’t work

My Story #18 [P&G] When push doesn’t work

Desi Jagger's Blog

My Story #18 [P&G] When push doesn’t work

I spotted an opportunity for my brand. I did some analysis and showed my recommendation to my manager.

 

“This is too complex. We don’t need a portfolio strategy.”

 

Just like that, my work was dismissed. I tried to sneak my proposal into a few other discussions, offering it as a solution to various challenges. It kept getting ignored. I was stuck pushing water uphill.

I believed in the strategy so I shared it with our regional team manager. She saw the value in it and I asked her to request it from my manager. The next day my manager came to me and exclaimed: “We need a portfolio strategy – it’s a top priority!” And that’s how I got to work on an idea which I was passionate about and which grew the business.

 

Get unstuck by creating demand for your idea. When push doesn’t work, try pulling.

 

Are you stuck with a manager who doesn’t see the potential of your ideas? Coaching can help you explore different ways of getting people onboard. Discover how by booking your free consultation now.

My P&G Story #17: When I wasn’t promoted

My P&G Story #17: When I wasn’t promoted

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #17: When I wasn’t promoted

A few of my peers, including my close friend, got promoted before me.

This caused a confusing bundle of emotions within me. I had performed really well since joining the company and I was ready for the next step. I was surprised I hadn’t been told there were opportunities for promotion. I felt let down by my manager – wasn’t she supposed to fight for me? I felt like a failure. I withdrew into myself, afraid to share my ambitions. To be honest, over the previous few months I hadn’t enjoyed my job and I hadn’t given my best. Yet I still felt I deserved recognition.

This internal conflict continued to simmer until, years later, I found a simple framework that helped me to make sense of my experience and learn from it. Mike Lehr separates out feelings, emotions and intuition:

  • feelings are the sensations that arise from a particular event
  • these feelings form emotions which move us to do, say or think things (e-motion)
  • intuition is the interpretation of these emotions and gives us insights about the situation, other people and ourselves

Intuition is our internal voice of truth. It guides us in the right direction and is especially helpful in situations where data isn’t available and logical reasoning doesn’t work. Intuition helps us to clarify where we stand on a particular issue. In order to connect to our intuition, we need to separate out the loud, confusing voices of our feelings and step back from our emotional reactions. From this clear space, we can ask ourselves: “What does this emotion say about me? About my relationship with this person? About this situation?” The answers can help us learn and move forward.

 

I wanted closure on the promotion situation, so I decided to apply the framework:

 

The event

A few of my peers, my very good friend included, got promoted before me.

 

My feelings

What sensations arose from this event?

I was really happy and proud for my friend, she was passionate and brilliant at her job and she deserved this promotion.

I was resentful and angry with my manager. Why hadn’t she rooting for me after giving me positive feedback all year? Wasn’t it her responsibility to develop and promote her team?

I was disappointed with myself for not achieving my best, for not being first. I began to doubt my capability and intelligence – my perfect track record of straight A’s and awards had been broken.

 

My emotions

How did these feelings move me to think and behave?

I congratulated my friend and was there for her during this exciting journey (happiness, pride).

I confronted my manager and pointed out she had bypassed an opportunity that she knew was important to me (anger). I secretly blamed her for not fighting enough for me (resentment).

I withdrew into myself (doubt) and stepped away from the cheerful, overly optimistic extrovert I had always been. I vowed to stop investing all my energy into this company which clearly didn’t value me (disappointment).

 

My intuition

What were my emotions telling me about my relationship with my friend?

I knew, deep down, that my friend wasn’t just brilliant at her job. She had also worked harder than me. Perhaps even more importantly, she had embraced a much better attitude than me – she had stayed positive and hadn’t complained as much. I knew I didn’t deserve the promotion as much as she did in this particular moment (a year before, yes, but not then). She had always supported. My intuition told me our friendship was worth it. My intuition was right – we have been close friends to this day.

What were my emotions telling me about my relationship with my manager?

Whilst I liked her very much on a personal level, there was something off about her as a manager. This event brought to mind many other small incidents where she had let me down. She had not stood up for me when others had criticized my work – even when she knew I was right. She had not given me credit for my big ideas. She had tried to keep me in a role that bored me. My intuition told me I should fight for myself and not count on her. My intuition was right – she added no value to my career for the whole time we worked together, or afterwards. I ignored this intuition for a long time and continued to rely on her. I kept getting disappointed.

What were my emotions telling me about my relationship with the company?

I was bored of doing the same kind of work. I was tired of rewriting strategy documents with ideas that would never see the light of day. For the first time in my life, I was actively trying to curb my effort instead of giving my all. I wanted to be promoted for the title, for the checkbox, for the prestige. I didn’t care about the work I would be doing once promoted – there was no job within the company that excited me. I felt indignant – I just wanted the company to recognize me for my past achievements and I was waiting for that before I make any more effort. My intuition was telling me that this wasn’t the right place for me (whether it was the company or the job, I wasn’t sure). This wasn’t the first time this message was showing up. Neither was it the last time I ignored it. My intuition was right. I continued to struggle until I left the company, the job and the industry.

In retrospect

Connecting to my intuition, albeit years later, gave me a sense of clarity and peace. And whilst I have not always been brave enough to follow my intuition, reflecting on it encourages me to trust it more next time.

 

Give it a try

It takes practice to learn how to connect with your intuition without confusing it with your emotions. Give it a try right now:

Event: What situation are you stuck in?

Feelings: What sensations are arising?

Emotions: What are these feelings making you think and do?

Intuition: What are these emotions teaching you about your relationships, the situation or yourself?

 

Get unstuck by connecting with your intuition. What emerges when you strip out the feelings and emotional reactions?

 

Not sure how to connect to your intuition (vs emotions)? Coaching helps you de-clutter your mind, strip out emotions and connect to what is true for you, deep down. Follow your intuition and book your free consultation now.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

My P&G Story #16: The last thing you should tell a creative

My P&G Story #16: The last thing you should tell a creative

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #16: The last thing you should tell a creative

I was training a big group of newly recruited P&G marketers. Paco was one of them. Fresh-faced-straight-out-of-university, exceptionally sharp and incredibly outspoken.

As part of the week-long training, we spent a day at one of the world’s best creative agencies. The objective was to inspire and educate the new marketers on building collaborative, long-lasting relationships with their creative teams.

The day included interactive sessions with the agency’s top creatives. Nick was one of them. In-advertising-since-he-could-remember, exceptionally inspiring and incredibly proud of his work. It had taken a lot of negotiation to find an hour in Nick’s packed calendar and we were lucky to have him.

Nick showed us his favourite advertising campaign, the one that had consumed him day and night, that had stretched him beyond imagination and had ultimately made his career. “This is my life’s work,” he proclaimed as he played the TV ad on the big screen. He was trembling and glowing even though this must have been the thousandth time he was watching it.

 

The ad finished. This would have been the moment where I thanked Nick for sharing his work and and asked the group to respond using the feedback framework I had taught them earlier.

But this moment never came because it was interrupted by another moment. The moment when Paco raised his hand and simultaneously shouted “It’s shit!”

 

Silence.

 

Red cheeks.

 

Bulging eyes.

 

I tried my best to rescue the situation. “What Paco is challenging is whether the campaign delivers against the brand objectives…” But the damage was done and no amount of rationalizing could repair Nick’s broken pride.

 

After the session, I gave Paco some feedback, using the framework to set an example.

The feedback framework:

1. Acknowledge the good; 2. Highlight improvement areas; 3. Engage on next steps.

“It’s fantastic that you are so engaged in these sessions. However, your feedback needs to come from the perspective of the brand audience, rather than your personal opinion. Now how do you think it’s best to manage this situation?”

 

Needless to say, Nick was unavailable for all future training we organized. We lost our most inspirational presenter but we did learn how not to build collaborative, long-lasting relationships with creatives. Looking back at our less experienced days, Paco and I laugh as we recount this story.

 

Sometimes we learn more from getting stuck than from getting unstuck. So go ahead, embrace the stickiness.

 

Can’t see the silver lining? Coaching helps you see the bigger picture and unpack the learning from every challenge. Book your free consultation to explore how.

Photo by Groucho Marx

My P&G Story #15: How to inspire without a big budget

My P&G Story #15: How to inspire without a big budget

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #15: How to inspire without a big budget

I was briefing the creative agencies on our latest Herbal Essences campaign – ‘tame the wild’. How could I inspire them without a big budget?

 

The P&G office, as bright and spacious as it was, wasn’t exactly ‘wild’. Agency briefs usually looked like this: a room so small that people’s elbows were touching and bags were stuffed under the table; a long powerpoint presentation with at least 20 slides borrowed from the previous long powerpoint presentation; an attempt to uplift the mood and get the creative juices flowing 3 hours later just as a colleague is knocking on the door and reminding us to vacate the room because they have it booked.

I got bored just thinking about starting to plan another one of these briefing sessions. I fantasized about doing something big and exciting like taking the team on safari (to tame their wild, unruly hair, like in the TV ad). As you can imagine, such extravaganza was not included in the budget and I wanted to stay friends with the finance manager. It is always a good idea to be friends with the finance manager.

 

Since I couldn’t take my team on safari (but I would encourage you to do it if you get the chance), I brought the safari to the office. I booked the most spacious room in the building. I dressed it up like the African savannah, with shrubs and reds and yellows. Drum beats played in the background. The team wowed as they walked through the door. We sat on big cushions on the floor, around a ‘campfire’. The brief still contained the required information like pack size and product benefit but I weaved these details into a story, like the ones you tell around campfires. It was colorful. It was interactive. No one wanted to leave the room.

The team’s excitement translated into tangible results. The local marketing plan they proposed was wildly creative. There were elements we had never done before, like festivals and beauty trucks. We had a lot of fun whilst driving the business.

– – –

 Reflecting back on this experience, it strikes me how quickly we grow out of child play and banish imagination to the unprofessional, not-results-focused-enough corner. We think that because we’re in a big, serious company, we need to act all big and serious to get stuff done. We mask the childish spirit with percentages and suits and complicated words. But I believe that, deep inside, this spirit remains and it takes any opportunity to manifest itself. Like when big and serious people unexpectedly walk into a makeshift African savannah in the middle of the office.

 

Get unstuck by flipping the situation. If you can’t take your team on safari, bring the safari to them.

 

Want to do something creative but don’t have the money? Coaching challenges your assumptions and helps you identify opportunities you never even considered. Begin by booking your free consultation now.

My P&G Story #14: How I made stewardship sexy

My P&G Story #14: How I made stewardship sexy

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #14: How I made stewardship sexy

“I have an ‘opportunity’ for you,” said Jim, my manager.

Translation: I have a horrible project that no one else wants to do and I’m going to speak in a high-pitched, excited voice in order to make you think you’re the luckiest person in the company who has been chosen to do it.

This was early on in my career so I was genuinely excited and curious. I am genuinely excited and curious about most things in life, but this was coming from my manager so it had to be big.

“We need someone to lead the stewardship team, to teach marketers how to plan and balance their budgets. It’s a big responsibility – it can save the company millions of dollars – and you have the right skills for it.”

 

He was asking me to be the Budget Police. No marketer likes the Budget Police. I would spend the rest of my P&G career having lunch alone, staring out of the cafeteria window to avoid angry glances from colleagues passing by.

I protested but Jim was insistent and he was my manager. I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t up for a challenge but I also didn’t want to be stuck with a tedious project. I offered a deal:

 

“I will take the stewardship project only if I can think of a way to make it fun.”

 

Jim agreed and I began my assessment. I gathered the facts:

  • Each brand manager had to spend their brand budget within +/-0.5%
  • This seemed like an insignificant margin but it added up to millions of dollars
  • For the past three years, the marketing spend had come significantly under or over budget; both were equally bad because what the company needed was stability

Like a true marketer, I asked myself why? What was holding these intelligent, hard-working people back? To get a deeper understanding, I held focus groups. The methodology was very robust and included corridor chats and eavesdropping on people’s rants about stewardship.

The insights I uncovered:

  • Marketers were afraid of looking at their budgets because what if they found a big mess or mistake?
  • They didn’t know where to start with managing the budgets because there were so many rules and they were bombarded with things to do
  • They felt stewardship was an ungrateful job because they only ever got punished for doing badly but never rewarded for doing well

As a result, they were putting off proper budget work for months… sometimes until the end of the fiscal year when it was too late. I say proper because the company had multiple budget reviews but these focused on the topline and marketers were trusted to do the more detailed and dirty work in their own time.

What was needed wasn’t more budget policing but instead more budget fun. I could do fun, even if it was stewardship related, and so I jumped right in.

 

I worked with the corporate finance experts to revolutionize the way we taught stewardship to marketers. This involved some mindset changes that led to behavioral changes.

 

The opposite of scary is sexy

I transformed the tone of voice and the look and feel of all stewardship communication. Presentation cover slides became a picture of attractive celebrities discussing the importance of getting the numbers right. Email subject lines started with ‘Stewardship is Sexy…’ Curiosity engages people. The marketers were surprised by the fresh attitude to budgets and hence opened up for a dialogue on the topic. They opened the emails. They turned up to the training sessions. This alone wasn’t going to sort out the budgets, but it made stewardship more approachable and that was a great start.

 

One step at a time

I locked myself into a room with the finance team for several hours and mapped out every action that had to take place throughout the year in order to balance the budgets. We designed bite-size communication that contained just one call to action at a time. Now marketers were not only opening our emails, they were actually reading them and taking action. What we were asking them to do was the same as before, but they perceived it as simpler.

 

The reward for being a nerd doesn’t have to be nerdy

No ‘stewardship excellence’ award, even if it’s embossed with gold and presented in front of the whole company is going to appeal to a marketer. Just because people do nerdy work (budgets are considered nerdy by marketers and most humans – ask around if you don’t believe me), it doesn’t mean they want to be known for it. Our prize was a bottle of real champagne for the best results, presented only in front of peers. I’ve never had so many people coming up to me and asking ‘how can I get one too?’ Our dialogue kept going…

Side note on push backs

I don’t want to leave you with an illusion that this process was a walk in the park. There were many obstacles. My favourite one was when I got a cautionary email from the finance director stressing that stewardship was not a joke and sexy visuals and words were utterly inappropriate. I thought I might get fired. Thankfully we had some early indications that the interventions are working so they turned a blind eye on my unconventional methods.

The results

Whilst everyone didn’t get a bottle of champagne, they did a pretty good job with their budgets. The company-level marketing spend was within target for the first time in three years. This was a happy end and the beginning of a new way of teaching stewardship to marketers – unconventional but highly effective. Oh, and the best part was, I had delivered on my commitment and so I negotiated my release from this project.

  

Get unstuck by bringing fun to a serious project. Humans will resist an unconventional method but no one can deny the great results it produces.

 

Feeling drained and uninspired? Coaching helps you explore different perspectives, including how to lighten up a difficult situation. Brighten up your day by booking your free consultation now.

Looking forward to connecting,