My blog was delayed a week by a violent storm in Iowa called a derecho. It produced wind gusts of up to 140 mph. 21,000 of Alliant Energy's Linn County customers remained without power Wednesday night, according KCRG-TV9, ten days after the storm. With my power off, my sump pump couldn’t keep up with the water and my basement flooded. Forgive the delay in my blog. I’m still without Internet but plan to be consistent with my weekly blogs starting with this post.
Create a Forcing Function Press Release
In John Rossman’s Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas to Become a Digital Leader, a Future Press Release is a forcing function to create a clear vision for innovations.
Few businesses take the time to see into the future to accurately visualize the end-product/service before they launch a project. Most revise the goal repeatedly, which costs money, time, and in some cases the entire project’s overall success. In many cases different contributing teams/departments have different variations of the outcome the company is attempting to achieve.
Amazon prevents this issue with a future press release exercise to provide clarity and visualize the end-service or product.
Rossman’s Idea #45: Start important projects or changes with an announcement. Be Clear about what the “killer feature” is for the future state capability. Give it to one leader to make this vision happen across the organization. Everyone works for this person to transform this vision into reality.
This is different from the Narrative* approach by providing a brief more impactful approach to excite and engage the greater number of people and departments involved.
Rossman shares, “The process of creating a simple, but specific product announcement clarifies the original vision. It acts as a forcing function to thoroughly examine key features, adoption, and your project’s likely path to success. Committing to a press release, speculative though it may be, also helps leadership clearly express important stakeholders the road map to success.”
Four Rules for a Future Press Release
Rule #1: State the goal in the future, as though you’ve achieved success. (Rossman states, “press releases at launch are good, but a better one is sometime after the launch, where true success can be discussed.”)
Rule #2: Start with the customer. Tell why the product is important to your customers, or whoever the key stakeholders are. Why do customers love it, how did it improve their experience, why would a customer care? Share the reasons it’s important and any other key goals.
Rule #3: Make the goal audacious and clear. Be specific with a measurable outcome. Include financial, operating, and market share outcomes. What did you achieve?
Rule # 4: Outline Principles used for success. Rossman feels this is the most important and difficult aspect of the future press release. Here you define the hard things you accomplished, important decisions, and any design principles which delivered success. What are the key issues addressed to achieve success? Just as we discussed in the narrative approach, when you get the “challenging” issues on the table early, it helps everyone understand the real nature of the change needed. You don’t need to solve the issues. Be Clear about what they are, while you still have time to solve them.
How the Forcing Function Works
Here are some things to remember to ensure your Future Press Release works.
The project leader needs to be empowered to make changes happen.
Create a future press release-oriented communication plan to help the project leader achieve success throughout the organization.
Once your future press release is approved, teams should have a difficult time backing out of commitments they’ve made. The leader refers to parts of the press release to remind and hold teams accountable. The future press release is a contract to enforce understanding and commitment.
Rossman’s future press release on Amazon Marketplace included this critical sentence, “A seller, in the middle of the night, can register, list an item, receive an order, and delight a customer as thought Amazon the retailer had done it.” This imposed tremendous requirements on both Amazon and the sellers. Just to do self-service registration, Rosman noted, over 20 different systems had to be integrated.
Critical to the press release’s value as a forcing functions Rossman adds, “We avoided bureaucracy and launched quickly because we were able to act nimbly, avoid organization structure to focus on an initiative.”
Rossman provides a great example of a Future Press Release in Figure 45.1 of the book.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do your initiatives start with a definition or vision that can be shared across the organization?
- Does organizational structure get in the way of achieving cross-functional delivery and success for change initiatives?
- Are leaders who are accountable for delivering change initiatives given license to nimbly work across the organization?
Does your business need to create more urgency and accountability? We can help. Please contact us today to schedule an exploratory meeting.
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NEXT BLOG – FAQ’s - How Answering Others’ Questions Benefits You!
You’ve heard; the only dumb question is the unasked one? Next blog, why documenting unmet needs and key friction points with Frequently Asked Questions by customers and internal users is critical to achieving success with innovations, projects, and ideas.