Growth Marketing

How to Adapt to Changes You Can't Predict: Creating an Evolutionary Team Structure

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Aug 2, 2022

After years of talk, the digital disruption that's long been predicted is here. Mobile, web, and in-person customers are increasingly one in the same. The trend toward remote working, tentative at best before COVID-19, has come into full bloom. And, in light of all these shifts, it's clear that how brands address this changing landscape will play a key role in determining their long-term business success.

More than ever, both company leaders and teams need to be more nimble and agile to evolve to meet these shifting realities around work, customer expectations, and more. Not to mention those unknowns that are still yet to come. (And, if one thing is for certain, it's that the next big change to come is only a matter of time.)

As businesses look for ways to become more flexible, one of the first places to start is with the very idea of organizational and team structures and how employees collaborate.

5 Ways to Evolve Your Team to Adapt to Changes You Can't Predict

Here are our top suggestions for structuring more flexible teams that your company can put into action right away:

1. Limit the size of project teams: As we’ve written before, most organizational strategists believe effective teams should be limited to four to five members. That's an ideal number for staying focused on the task and driving toward solutions and decisions. If it seems like more people are needed, then the task is being defined too broadly and should be split into more narrowly focused tasks.

    2. Make sure everyone feels empowered: Just as actors are given free range to improvise when there is a strong director-actor trust, according to McKinsey & Company, it is up to senior managers to mentor their teams in ways that foster trust and set parameters within which the team is empowered to make in-the-moment decisions and be held accountable for those decisions. Nothing kills agility more than the need to get multiple layers of sign-offs.

      3. Set ambitious team goals and deadlines: You remember that one marketing class when you and your group had to come up with a new product to compete against iTunes? And you pulled off that all-nighter as you struggled to come up with the concept, name, package, price, and promotional strategy? Teams coalesce and perform at their peak when the challenge is perceived to be important to everyone equally and they have deadlines. That is, when there's a strong sense of team collaboration and urgency. Real world teams need to be challenged to move beyond their individual functions and department silos and be encouraged and rewarded for acting on the adage that what’s good for the whole is also good for the individual.

        4. Schedule shorter and fewer meetings: Meetings are often compared to the attic that gets so piled high with items of varying importance until there's no more space to think, let alone uncover what's of value. According to CNBC, it’s estimated that U.S. companies hold more than 11 million meetings every day. We’ve all been in more than a few of those meetings that turn out to be a complete waste of time. Meetings with a clear agenda and attendees who come prepared help minimize efficiency, giving team members "time back" in their day—allowing for more information gathering, analysis, and critical thinking. The very activities that help eliminate the need for lengthy meetings to begin with.

          5. Leverage real-time communication and collaboration tools: Technology now makes it possible to enable more efficient teamwork between an increasingly remote workforce, often separated by time zones and other barriers. With uneven high-speed internet access and imperfect video conferencing technology, highly interactive, real-time communication and collaboration tools—options like, Wrike, Asana, Jira, Basecamp, Slack, and others—offer employees the chance to get into the specifics of any given project, while democratizing access to the whole team regardless of where they're located.

            Next Steps for Setting Your Marketing and Customer Engagement Teams up for Success

            “Having a flexible team model and toolset is vital for a high-performing marketing org,” notes Jackson Yomogida, Cofounder at Grafted Growth. “Maximizing output comes from the ability to adapt to changing environments and market challenges—tools like Braze can enable a team to quickly shift focus and strategy when and where needed.”

            You can't solve for what you can't fully see or understand. That's why today's marketers and customer engagement teams need a singular, coherent picture of what's happening with customers, in the moment, on a personal level. Here are the tools successful brands have in place to do just that and position themselves to be able to navigate whatever comes next.

            Mary Kearl

            Mary Kearl

            Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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