Author – Joseph Baird
So you did it! You finally had your plan approved for that new geolocation specific offer program. It is going to be great and will integrate social, mobile, customer history and real time bidding for the offers! You are going to be the envy of the industry!
But then the realization hit you….even though that prototype demo you smoked was Steve Jobs-like in the board room, now you have to pull together the internal team to build it and more importantly integrate the rest of your customer experiences. The hotshot agency development team had worked together with the technology vendors but only for the prototype.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, will be to find, transfer or hire that seven-person team that will turn the dream you demonstrated into consistent reality.
The skills required on this team are one part customer experience, one part analytics, two parts integration…a mix of open source technology and knowledge of the latest mobile platform players. Did I mention in case you forgot, that you do not work at Google but rather you are an apparel retailer(no, Jeff Bezos is not involved).
This story is being played out all across the world. The possibilities of Big Data and the mobile, connected consumer are fast outpacing traditional business’ ability to create compelling, profitable experiences.
And more times than not, it is a result of not being able to form and retain the right team.
I have seen this in my work with global retailers as well as the largest Media companies in the world. Further, since I was often charged with building teams within professional services firms responsible for commercializing new technologies, I experienced it first hand.
A few things to avoid a few of those sleepless nights…yes, there are more mixed metaphors than you can shake a stick at!
- Beware the eagle, you know them. More degrees than a thermometer, heroic tendencies and the need to always be the smartest person in the room. While the eagles may help you in the early days, invariably they will soar elsewhere or try to create an unnatural dependency.
- Geography matters. We have seen this pattern before where the talent wants to be together. Right now, Silicon Valley and New York are the hot beds. While there are other places where pure analytics or design are hot, there are really two centers of gravity at least for the next 24 to 36 months. If you are lucky enough to have presence in these markets, great. If you are head quartered in Atlanta or Portland, that’s ok too but you are going to have to put more effort into the process. Find a way to have your team connect and spend time with the centers of gravity.
- Academic connections are essential. I have been reasonably successful at team building over the past three hot skills cycles. A consistent tool I have used is the connection to at least two or three major universities in the space. I am not talked about recruiting but rather reaching into the graduate programs and finding masters or doctoral students who are interested in internships.
- Don’t settle for B’s. If you are truly maintain competitive advantage, the team must be strong across the board. If not, your A’s are going to get frustrated. We all know this, but too often don’t pull the trigger early. In the early stages of your development, it is essential to not err on the side of leniency.
- Weed the garden early. Success at picking your team is going to be 50% at best. That is if you already know the people and have a good sense for their ability to grow into these new roles. You may strong, loyal staff who have done this before but are not able to make this transition.
- Maintain your farm club. When you are successful, the world will know. And the world will start waving large numbers in the face of your team members. Further, it may be the right thing for some people to move on in other industries or companies. Celebrate these changes and make sure you are building the next generation.
Good luck in your team. In a future entry, I will talk about specific skills and traits to look for.