Structure follows strategy, but culture eats strategy for breakfast

James Lewis on why it is vital that your culture changes to fit your strategy.

There are some key alignments that need to be made within any organisation wanting to achieve new things. In this case, it would be brands or agencies wishing to shift their thinking from old methods of engaging consumers (traditional media) to new and improved ones like digital content strategies and content marketing.

Many organisations think that by deciding on a strategy to pursue these new engagement methods, they have done enough! Not true. If your strategy is driving towards a new way of engaging consumers, it goes without saying that these organisations need to redesign their organisational design. After any new strategy has been embarked upon, it is crucial that the correct team of decision makers ask the question: How must the organisation redesign and rethink its internal structure to be optimally positioned to be able to deliver on this new strategy?

This is a question that is seldom asked or properly answered, or even if it is answered it is rarely implemented properly.

An even rarer and less likely question is this: Is our organisational culture healthy and mature enough to handle this new strategy and what work do we need to do to assess this?

So what generally happens?

We talk about the brave new world we see ahead of us and then we don’t follow through with the work required to reconfigure our businesses to be able to deliver on this vision of the future.

Talking about a new strategy and doing what you have always done is really a massive problem in today’s business world. Things are changing fast and there is much lip service paid to these changes, but underneath all of the modern language and grand strategic thinking is an old model which runs on old oil and this needs to be changed (before the engine blows up and dies). This holds many businesses back from getting into a new mode of existence, one in which improved understanding and delivery of consumer needs becomes paramount to the success of these organisations in the future.

Why does this happen then? Why is it that strategy is so often just a ‘waste of people’s time and effort’?

There are a variety of reasons for this and here are some of the more prevalent ones:

1) A new strategy is decided upon without engaging the right people, at the right time, in the right conversations.
2) The organisational leadership has not truly got to grips with the true meaning of the strategy in terms of what needs to change internally in order to positively affect the external.
3) Organisational culture that is built on negative- or fear-driven behaviours or, even worse, on passive resistance!
4) A fear of releasing old models of business which have been, or still are, very profitable, in favour of a ‘new way of doing things’. This is why so many growth projects fail. Why change a profitable, working model with something that might or might not be the right decision? What happens if we lose our core method of making money in the process?

I could go on, but I think these are enough for you to think about for now. Each one of the points mentioned above can and will stop any new strategy dead in its tracks, so be warned!

The telltale sign that your new strategy is going to be squashed is found in the cultural DNA of an organisation. How an organisation expresses itself and engages (with staff, customers, and the public) through a set of desirable or undesirable behaviours and practices, will determine more than anything else whether your new strategy will stand a chance of survival or not.

It is easy to have strategy meetings and to draw up amazing plans on how the future is going to be profitably harnessed by your organisation, however, it is not so easy at all to change a culture. This requires deep and tenacious work across every facet of the organisation and not just in your little ‘growth area’. It takes time and it often means pain and discomfort!

For people who are keen on driving new strategies within organisations that have been built over time in a certain way, you must ask yourself the question: Does this organisational culture reflect a mind-set in which new things and thinking can succeed?

It is the culture of an organisation more than anything else which determines the answer to these questions.

Structure follows strategy, but culture most definitely eats strategy for breakfast!

By James Lewis

Stop that thief! How to deal with plagiarism

Andrew Hallett gives some hints and tips for dealing with plagiarism in the digital world. 

The unfortunate reality when it comes to content is that there are people out there who will steal it.

Plagiarism will never stop, sadly, but there are ways that you can prevent your content from being taken without your permission.

With content syndication thriving, readers do not bat an eyelid when they see duplicate content across the web, so it is your responsibility to protect your intellectual property.

Here are some tips when it comes to plagiarism:

– Search The Web

You have just written a fantastic piece of content, but someone has stolen it and is passing it off as their own. You won’t know that this has happened unless you scour the net. While this may be a tiresome task, it is worth your while to do it, even if it is just once a week. A good tool to check the web is Press Reader, while taking chunks of your pieces and putting them into Google also works.

– Make Your Website ‘Read Only’

By making your website ‘read only’, nobody can copy and paste your content. However, this can be a problem when you want to copy and paste your own work directly from the site, so you will need to keep saved copies at your disposal.

– Watermark Images

While some people believe that putting a watermark over images spoils them, it is the safest route to ensuring nobody else uses them. You need to be clever with the placement of the watermark though, as it must not be easily chopped off or hideously placed over the image. Think about how best to place the watermark depending on the image itself.

Wikimedia Commons

– Watermark Videos

The same principle applies for video as it does for images. It is best to watermark your work to avoid others passing it off as their own. It takes a long time to create a video, so don’t make it easy for someone else to piggyback on your hard work.

– “But I’ve Credited You”

Just because someone takes your piece in full, and then credits and links back to you, doesn’t make it okay. If you see that someone has done this, you need to take action. Yes, a link back is cool, but they cannot take your work and pretend it is their’s.

– Legal Action

If a website or publication continues to use your content, despite an email warning them against it, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer. Yes, this can be expensive, but the damage to your reputation and potential loss of income can be disastrous. This is a last resort, but a necessary one if you cannot sort the issue out yourself.

If you can stay on top of things, you should be able to stop people from using your work before it becomes a serious issue. However, just letting it slide and not thinking it is an issue is the wrong way to go about it, so be as proactive as possible, as the reactive could cost you in the end.

By Andrew Hallett, Sub Editor at Content Studio

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