Big Picture (Jun/Jul 2011)
By Bruce Bolger, Publisher
The emergence of a new field creates both opportunities and challenges. The organizations dedicated to implementing engagement strategies face the challenge of having to feel their way, since there’s very little formal information on effective implementation strategies. These pioneering organizations have to start by educating themselves about engagement; rallying management in different areas of the organization to get involved so that there’s an aligned strategy; conducting an assessment process to identify strengths and weaknesses; and then developing and implementing a tactical plan with performance measures to achieve the goals and feedback mechanisms to continually improve the process.
A tall order for any firm, but for big organizations this can represent a major undertaking – not unlike managing a major marketing campaign, for which considerable outside assistance is required to address the leadership, training, communication, motivation, measurement and recognition issues involved. The big question is, who are they turning to for help? The marketing industry provides some clues.
Multiple Issues, Multiple Challenges
The size and scope of the task for large organizations becomes clear soon after they conduct their first engagement assessment survey and determine they have a number of challenges addressing different issues. It may be that employees have an unclear view of the brand proposition and what they individually can do to ensure the delivery of brand promises. The assessment might find that mid-level managers lack consistency in messaging and style that runs counter to overall organizational objectives. They might identify learning or knowledge-base deficiencies; a negative emotional atmosphere; poor communication; inadequate performance measurements or feedback mechanisms. Very often, the organizations called in to conduct the assessment can assist with one or two of these issues. But, as in the advertising industry, it’s very difficult for one outside resource to provide all of the tactical services involved with an enterprise engagement solution.
What emerges is a model successfully implemented by the advertising and marketing field for generations, and which is occurring now in the engagement space: the emergence of “Full-Service Engagement Agencies” that help organizations mastermind and implement a fully integrated strategy, deploying both in-house and subcontracted services specifically designed to help an organization achieve its specific engagement goals.
Companies like EGR International, JWT INSIDE and StratAchieve have recently issued statements positioning themselves as full-service engagement agencies specifically organized to provide clients with a fully coordinated strategy. More companies like these are sure to follow in positioning themselves this way.
A Need For Specialists
Smaller organizations will not necessarily need (or be able to afford) a full-service engagement agency to manage the process and will tap internal management to conduct the overall strategy.
Large company or small, there is no way that a single agency, organization, or department can specialize in all of the essential engagement tactics. There is an equal need for specialists who can help organizations address specific leadership, training, communications, motivation, measurement, rewards and other engagement issues. There are already hundreds of capable suppliers in all of these areas. What is needed are more organizations who better understand how their services contribute to an overall engagement strategy, and more full-service engagement agencies who know how to combine these various resources (like marketing and ad agencies do in their fields) to help clients achieve their engagement goals.
The second annual Enterprise Engagement Alliance Networking Conference & Expo, scheduled for June 1-2 at the Doubletree Hilton in Tarrytown, NY, (@@http://www.eeaexpo.org), is designed to help both engagement agencies and tactical experts find better ways to work together to address America’s growing demand for comprehensive engagement solutions.
The event will not only provide an overall framework for the implementation of enterprise engagement strategies, it will also help bring leading engagement agencies together with different types of tactical experts and providers of engagement products and services in order to create better solutions for their clients.
New industries take time to develop. The good news is that this process is being sped up by the growing demand from leading corporations for effective enterprise-wide engagement strategies.
See you in Tarrytown.
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