May 19, 2020

Implementing Changes to Your Business Model

targeting customers
Business models
George F. Brown Jr.
Blue Canyon Partners
Bizclik Editor
4 min
Implementing Changes to Your Business Model

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In the previous two parts of this article, the challenges of making changes to a firm&rsquo;s business model were documented, and the importance of taking action to gain internal buy-in was spotlighted.&nbsp; Closely linked to the need to create a culture supportive of the new elements of the business model was the challenge of managing the implementation process.&nbsp; Failures to do so were cited as the second most frequent cause of disappointing results.&nbsp; Recommendations to avoid this outcome fell within five categories.&nbsp; These recommendations were focused on multiple dimensions of the implementation process.&nbsp; The suggestions outlined in the paragraphs below are ones that can raise the probability that the new business model delivers rewards to your customers and shareholders.</p>
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A focus on &ldquo;Testing, Risk Identification, and Adequate Funding&rdquo;, reflects responses that cited &ldquo;the unknowns&rdquo; as the key source of implementation failures.&nbsp; One executive emphasized the need for some version of beta testing, from both an internal and an external perspective, of the planned changes before wholesale implementation was approved.&nbsp; He argues that there will always be surprises, and that you can often learn them through some form of beta testing.&nbsp; Another executive tied together the concepts of risk assessment and adequate funding.&nbsp; This individual argues that no plan ever goes as planned, but that funding levels typically assume a smooth path from start to finish.&nbsp; A third recommendation within this category emphasized the need to pre-test key systems and processes within the company.&nbsp; This executive noted that while the change might be centered elsewhere, virtually every change these days impacts on financial systems, enterprise IT systems, fulfillment systems, etc.&nbsp; Unless the implementation team can be confident that key systems are &ldquo;change-ready&rdquo;, the likelihood of problems is high.</p>
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Many arguments were provided in support of the need for a &ldquo;Detailed, Fact-Based Strategy&rdquo;.&nbsp; One argument began by noting that off-the-cuff strategies have such a high failure rate that it&rsquo;s impossible to discern exactly where things went wrong.&nbsp; But when the strategy is defined in careful details that lead to a meaningful &ldquo;What-Who-When&rdquo; action plan, the implementation team has a genuine roadmap to follow and a basis for assessing progress and problems.&nbsp; Another executive noted that a good strategy will not only say what to do, but also what not to do &ndash; a tool that can be critical in helping the project team avoid heading down blind alleys.</p>
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Another set of recommendations advocated a &ldquo;Full Time Project Team with the Right Skills&rdquo;.&nbsp; Quite frequently, we heard examples of failures due to the fact that there was no time to manage the implementation project due to the commitments of &ldquo;day jobs&rdquo; or the &ldquo;real jobs&rdquo; held by project team members.&nbsp; <em>&ldquo;If it&rsquo;s important enough to do, it&rsquo;s important enough to put people on the project full time&rdquo;</em> was one executive&rsquo;s observation.&nbsp; The &ldquo;right skills&rdquo; was another important theme.&nbsp; One executive observed that it was often the case that the new business model required skills not resident in the firm.&nbsp; But too many firms assume that these skills can be quickly learned, and fail to source individuals with the necessary expertise to be successful.&nbsp; This executive emphasized the need to think through the team&rsquo;s composition and be realistic about whether the available talent pool is up to the task.&nbsp;</p>
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&ldquo;Monitoring, Learning, and Removing Barriers&rdquo; was cited as important from two main perspectives.&nbsp; The first is that no major project goes without surprises, and best practices dictate the need for processes to identify and overcome such surprises.&nbsp; The second is that monitoring processes typically ensure the involvement of key members of the management team, which is essential when barriers need to be removed.&nbsp; One piece of advice emphasized the need for learning and evolution:&nbsp; <em>&ldquo;Keep true to the vision, but be prepared to alter course&hellip;&rdquo;.</em></p>
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Observations related to the importance of &ldquo;Best-in-Class Project Management&rdquo; emphasize the fact that the skills and competencies associated with implementation are every bit as demanding and complex as those associated with strategy development.&nbsp; Those firms that develop these skills within their firms will be well-equipped to manage complex changes to business models required from time to time.&nbsp; Specific recommendations involved almost every phase of project management, but the one given most weight was developing metrics through which progress can be measured and managed. &nbsp;One executive commented <em>&ldquo;If there is ever a time for a dashboard, this is it.&nbsp; You&rsquo;re going to have &lsquo;red light situations&rsquo; for sure, so you need a process that spotlights them early and allows you to address <span data-scayt_word="them."" data-scaytid="1">them.&rdquo;</span></em></p>
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Elements of your growth strategy and of your strategy to improve results in an underperforming division are inevitably going to require that you define and implement changes to your firm&rsquo;s existing business model.&nbsp; You can&rsquo;t avoid them &ndash; and probably don&rsquo;t want to avoid them in your efforts to drive growth and improve profitability.</p>
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Tell yourself and your management team that &ldquo;You know it ain&rsquo;t easy&rdquo;, as that is a fact of life associated with essentially every dimension of change to a business model that can be identified.&nbsp; And recognize that at the top of the list as to why &ldquo;you know how hard it can be&rdquo; are things you can control &ndash; the implementation process and internal responses to the change.&nbsp; The results can be all that you had hoped for when you defined your strategy to drive growth and improve profitability, but that will only happen if you and your executive team take on the major responsibility of managing a change in your firm&rsquo;s business model.</p>
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George F. Brown, Jr. is the CEO and <span data-scayt_word="cofounder" data-scaytid="6">cofounder</span> of Blue Canyon Partners, Inc., a strategy consulting firm working with leading business suppliers on growth strategy.&nbsp; Along with Atlee Valentine Pope, he is also the author of <em><span data-scayt_word="CoDestiny" data-scaytid="7">CoDestiny</span>: Overcome Your Growth Challenges by Helping Your Customers Overcome Theirs</em>, published by <span data-scayt_word="Greenleaf" data-scaytid="8">Greenleaf</span> Book Group Press of Austin, TX.&nbsp; See <a href="http://www.codestinybook.com/"><span data-scayt_word="//www.CoDestinyBook.com&quot; data-scaytid="2">www.CoDestinyBook.com</span></a&gt; for more details.</p>
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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

CMO
Kyndryl
IBM
Leadership
Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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