Today I joined the entire company in our new café for our monthly company meeting. But unbeknownst to me, they had changed it up dramatically. And the modifications they made to the meeting are indicative of the important cultural changes that have been taking place.
Those unfamiliar with agile philosophies sometimes assume “agile” means lack of process, planning or consistency. In fact, all those things are present in agile … but it’s important to look at the underlying data to determine when that consistency helps or hinders us in reaching goals.
In this quarter’s client satisfaction survey we saw consistency in several areas … so we looked closer to interpret those results.
In a traditional environment, the executive team might hire a branding company to define and roll out the organization’s values. The company then typically ends up with words that are cliché, ambiguous and impossible to measure – values like “passion” and “excellence” – or a Dilbert-like phrase filled with buzzwords – such as “leveraging core competencies to achieve synergistic results”. That doesn’t cut it here.
So of course, we decided to turn the process on its head. We asked employees to tell the executive team what our core values are.
Employees were asked to write a value and short description on a card and post it on our newly-created Core Values wall. For two weeks, each employee could add as many or as few as they wanted, and in the end, employees contributed nearly 50 cards.
From there, we grouped the cards based on similar ideas, and came up with twelve high-level themes. Those themes then were put into a survey tool, where employees were asked to rank them. The results were crystal clear. Employees believe we have five core values, with the other seven supporting those.
Our final step was to have our marketing team help wordsmith the final values, because of course, they have to sound like us.
And here are the values that our employees believe make us who we are and define how we work with each other and our clients every day:
- Own it: We’re accountable to ourselves, each other and our clients. We keep our promises.
- Bring it: We deliver exceptional service and value every day. We’re aiming for Wow!
- Push it: We’re always moving forward or learning from our mistakes. Standing still is not an option.
- Say it: We’ve torn down the walls so ideas and information flow freely. Candid and direct is a way of life.
- Unite! We are strategic and creative, thoughtful and candid, fun and different. We’re one team, united by a common vision.
If you interact with any of us at Geonetric in any way – as a client, vendor partner, community neighbor, agile co-conspirator, prospective client or candidate for employment – I trust that you’ve been seeing those values in action for a long time. We’ve just finally written them down in a way that sounds just like us. Yep – nailed it.
For years healthcare marketers have followed this plan when developing marketing campaigns. Countless hours are spent putting a comprehensive marketing plan together that starts out by listing all the tactics that will be used to attract prospects. From there creative is developed to tie all the messaging together which leads to a conversion point where the prospect is hopefully converted into a patient.
The conversion point is the most important part of a marketing campaign. So why not focus on that element first and work backwards from there? That is exactly what Ben Dillon, Geonetric’s vice president, introduces in his “Produce Marketing That Matters” article, which appeared in the October 2013 issue of Healthcare Marketing Report.
In this article, you’ll learn lots of tips that will enhance your efforts, like how to:
- Focus on conversions to help prove the value of marketing efforts
- Apply agile marketing principals to marketing campaigns
- Improve landing pages and types of strong conversion points
- Make constant and rapid adjustments to marketing strategies
- Set tangible goals should be set before campaign timelines
Doesn’t it sound fun to go diving in the Caribbean or to go camping alongside penguins? It does! And the people who market these types of adventures do so in creative ways that don’t feel like marketing. They create great content – the kind of content that consumers love to read and want to experience themselves.
And, according to David Meerman Scott’s opening keynote at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies conference, healthcare can market this way too. No, you don’t need sand or ocean water or even penguins.
What you need is to write interesting content. How you ask? The key is relevance.
Today Geonetric was certified as a Democratic Workplace by WorldBlu. We’re proud to be a company that values its employees and actively works to create such a positive workplace culture.
Geonetric has always been a great place to work. About 18 months ago, we took that a step further – we said “great culture” has to mean more than just amenities like free food and a flexible work environment. So we eliminated our formal management hierarchy and instead created self-organizing, self-managing teams. That was a pretty major step toward a democratic workplace, even before we knew that was a “thing”.
We have a pretty lofty goal for response rate. We need 70% participation, every survey. And you know what? We’ve consistently exceed that goal for more than two years. This time around, 73% of our clients participated in the survey and 92% of those respondents gave us a 5.0 or higher overall score!
It has been a little more than a year since we took the radical step to eliminate traditional management entirely. The goal was to extend the observations we had made from human psychology and the performance of Agile teams to the furthest extent we could imagine. It was truly an experiment: there were a handful of well-known examples to learn from, but the literature is pretty thin on the practical realities of self-organizing teams outside the software industry. And there were no peers that we knew of in eastern Iowa that had gone as far as we were intending to go. So, we rolled the dice and went for it using the best information we had at the time. Since we declared we’d be open about the experiment, it’s about time to revisit where we’re at, what’s working and what’s not. This post will just outline a few of the areas where we’ve seen success, and some where we’ve had difficulty. I’ll use the same format we use each week on each team in our retrospectives.
We have all experienced it. You grind away in your daily work environment. After a while, when things go well, they don’t really mean much. When things go slightly awry, they end up blown out of proportion. You end up confused sometimes. It’s got to be better outside of these walls right?
A group of Geonetric “agilists” (cool word, right!?) set out for Denver to attend the Humanizing Work Conference hosted by Agile for All. Among the attendees were companies from across the country, both large and small. For three days, we got the chance to look at ourselves and our company from a new vantage point.
The setup of the conference was brilliant. We spent as much time learning from the hosts and coaches there as we did from each other. We networked with peers we’d never met (some we never knew existed). When we got to take a step back from the daily grind of our own work, we got to see our work through someone else’s eyes… and it looked really cool!
What is the difference between a project manager and a client advisor?
It’s an interesting question and one we at Geonetric have been answering for some time now. During our company-wide roll out of agile, we refined some of our internal roles, and with that came the transformation of our project managers.
Geonetric’s project managers have always handled more than just timelines and budgets. We are a very hands-on group – we do everything from place content to test new website functionality.
But now, we’ve taken on more of an advisory role. What does that mean for our clients?
What do you get when you gather 150 digital project managers together for two days? A well-organized conference that runs on time.
I spent two days in Philadelphia at the inaugural Digital PM Conference produced by the Bureau of Digital Affairs in association with Happy Cog™. This event is being touted as the first of its kind. There are plenty of conferences that include topics relevant to project managers as a side discussion. But to have a conference dedicated to the trials and tribulations of the digital project manager was definitely unique.
The topics covered how to manage projects from a variety of perspectives. The sessions shared ways to keep projects moving, clients happy and teams engaged. I have to say I picked up some really great tips and met a lot of “my people.”
Rachel Gertz presented “Clients Matter; So Put Your Team First.” This topic fits well into the agile culture we work in daily at Geonetric. Clients continue to make requests and our primary goal as project managers is to keep them happy, but sometimes we do this at our internal team’s expense. We are so buried in the weeds that we forget the needs of our team. If we lose our team’s confidences, we’re sunk.
As healthcare marketers we enjoy being in control. So coming to grips with the fact that sometimes we’re not in control can feel quite uncomfortable. This growing reality was difficult to swallow a few years ago and even more so today. We need to embrace the fact we can’t control every single piece of the consumer experience. Sounds radical doesn’t it? Not being in control goes against the very nature of who we are as human beings and how we strive to become even more valuable as marketers to our communities.
Does giving up control mean losing control of your story or message? I submit to you, if done correctly, it does not.
A number of the readers of GeoVoices are other companies using Agile methods, or considering it, because Geonetric is particularly aggressive in using Agile methods. If you’re interested in Agile, this post is for you. If not, feel free to skip this one!
Our Agile coach, Richard Lawrence, and his company Agile For All, put on a conference called Humanizing Work this week for advanced practitioners of Agile. Everyone had at the minimum been through a full Agile training program already; most had been involved with Agile for quite some time, some for many years. Attendees ranged from very large, well known corporations to small businesses and everything in between. Continue reading
It’s a well-documented fact that Geonetric surveys our clients every quarter to find out how we’re doing. In fact, we just wrapped up our Q3 survey.
Some might ask why we survey so frequently. Doesn’t that lead to survey fatigue? Aren’t we worried about over-surveying leading to skewed results and lowered response rates?
On the other hand, good businesses have to pay attention to the “Voice of the Customer.” What are their preferences, expectations, and experiences with our company?
So how do we balance these two seemingly conflicted questions?
In October of last year, I wrote about how we were using Scrum to drive agile marketing campaigns. This ended up being our pilot program to see if Scrum works outside of the software world.
We found out a lot of what makes Scrum so great does in fact work outside the walls of software, just not everything. We actually deemed the practice “Scrum” (yes, making finger quotes when you say it!).
A year later all of our teams are using some elements of Scrum, and to a much greater degree, embracing the constructs of Agile that help us get things done. We are trying not to call it Scrum either, when it’s not.
Our software teams still embrace Scrum and the rest of our company has learned a thing or two from this.
Agile-versary??? Stay tuned for more about this exciting effort in the next few months!