Lessons Learned From A Loss

I’m not one that accepts defeat easily.  In part, it’s the competitive nature in me.  It’s also the fact that I’m an only child so I’m used to getting my way.  But when it comes to missing out on an opportunity to work on a fun business project, you need to evaluate and figure out what the lesson is to be learned.

Here is the background.  MRM Detroit was given the opportunity to pitch a website redesign project.  After a lot of hard work to come up with 4 designs we thought this potential client would appreciate, we were awarded the business.  We were subsequently presented with a new requirement that wasn’t part of the original scope and needed to quickly assess what could and couldn’t be done.  Our point of view was that it significantly increased the amount of work and budget and could jeopardize the live date of the site.  So we pushed back.  We did commit to delivering on the original scope but presented the clients with some other options…one of which was to delay the launch so we could go back to the drawing board and do this right.  The clients picked the “delay” option but with the caveat that they would open up the redesign for bid again.  Needless to say, they picked the other agency and awarded the project to them.

So now what?  After a few days of being disappointed, I decided to take the approach of “what can I take from this experience and apply moving forward.”

Don’t Commit To Something You Don’t Believe In
Nothing good can come of this.  The requirement being asked of us after being awarded the business was technology that was innovative but not something we as an agency had done (yet) or would really recommend.  We backed up our POV with research we had done with some of our larger clients.  Additionally, we felt in order to protect our agency’s reputation as well as the client’s brand, to try to develop something that wasn’t broadly being used as well as in a timeframe that wasn’t reasonable didn’t make sense.  We did make the commitment to partner and collaborate with our clients on this project but wanted to do it in a way that was strategic and would benefit everyone.

Be Specific And Know Your Role
Looking back on this experience, there was a lot of ambiguity in the process.  One thing that we did when we re-pitched the project was clearly list out the assumptions we had going into it.  We made sure that we listed out what we knew our responsibilities were and our assumptions on what client responsibilities were.  Whenever going into a project, knowing who was doing what can certainly ensure seamless delivery and launch.  If you’re not sure, ask.  If you disagree, discuss.  If you agree, approve and go.

What You Don’t Know, Learn To Do
The new requirement was responsive web design.  We’ve never built this for a client.  It’s new and there are 2 big names I found that are using it fully…Barack Obama and The Boston Globe.  Why hasn’t MRM built a site with this?  This morning I sent an e-mail to our technology, user experience and interactive teams suggesting we do a prototype.  Guess what?  They agreed.  We may not be currently doing this for a client but we certainly need the expertise and background to provide innovative solutions for our clients.

There you have it…lessons learned from a loss.  We may not like it but there is always an opportunity to learn something when things don’t go exactly your way.  What lessons have you learned in losses?

Have we forgotten how to innovate?

Earlier this week I received an e-mail with the following in the subject line: “Take time to read – Especially the 19 facts at the end.  Enlightening or Scary?”.  Normally I quickly realize these are the typical chain e-mails but for some reason, I decided to read it.  The e-mail basically talked about 9 industries that are being changed by technology and 19 facts about the deindustrialization of America that will blow your mind.  After doing a little digging, I found that these articles, either together or separately, have been floating around the internet for a few months now.

At any rate, I realized how happy I was to be in the job that I am in now.  As part of MRM Worldwide‘s Focus Innovation Team, it’s our job to learn about new technologies and how they can improve some of the daily tasks we take for granted.  Rather than complain about how China or other countries are “out-innovating” us or worry about manufacturing jobs being outsourced to other countries, why not embrace what technology can do and the possibilities it can provide?  My point is that America was founded on innovation.  As the landscape has gone global, other countries are discovering how technology can be a part of our lives.  Maybe we just forgot and needed a not so subtle reminder to always look ahead and invent new ways to do things.

Let me leave you with 2 videos I came across last week.  The first is a video I saw from Church Crunch.  It takes a look at newspapers and if they were invented today.

The second video I found on Michael Hyatt’s blog and looks at books and the possibilities that could exist with technology that makes this possible NOW!

In both these examples, the traditional model has been reinvented.  I for one find this completely exciting!  What about you?  Do you fear this new paradigm or are you eager to see it evolve and innovate?  Think about it and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Have a great weekend!

Growth without change? Not likely.

Photo credit: JabezPosters.com

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 weeks since I made the decision to leave GM and come to MRM Worldwide.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  I can honestly say I’ve learned a ton in my time here so far and I know that more is yet to be learned.  I know I wouldn’t have come to this realization unless I made the move.  I think most would agree that a certain level of comfort sets in when you’ve been somewhere for a long time.  Being at GM for 13 years provided me with that sense of comfort, but was I growing professionally or personally?  No.  I knew how things ran inside the Renaissance Center.  I knew what my expectations were of the people I reported to.  I just didn’t feel a sense of excitement about the day that was ahead of me.  Kind of like that image of the hamster on the wheel.

Enter MRM Worldwide.  Much of the work I do now focuses on finding new and innovative ways to get consumers to interact with the GM brands (I still find this part of it amusing…GM is my client!).  Consumers don’t know what they don’t know!  That part of my job is really cool.  The other interesting part of my job centers on this new “agency” culture I spend my days in.  I need to learn how things run in this building.  There were a couple of other examples this week where I felt I needed to work on presenting to clients as well as my interactions with suppliers supporting our business needs.  These are things I never would have thought about before.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know!

We’ve all heard that life doesn’t stand still.  Well, neither should we.  It hit me last night before I went to bed…life without change does not encourage growth.

I’m not saying to look for change through a job.  I am merely suggesting to always look for ways to challenge yourself and try things you never thought you could do.  You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish and what you can learn.

A Final Look Back

I feel like it’s been forever since I last posted something.  I guess that’s because there has been a little bit of change going on from a career standpoint.  In the course of 2 weeks, I’ve gone from a 13 year career at General Motors to working on the agency side at MRM Worldwide.  I couldn’t be happier.  That’s not to say the decision to leave GM was an easy one.  Let’s face it, 13 years is a long time to spend with a company, especially in the context of today’s world.  There were A TON of things I would have never experienced if it were not for GM.  There were A TON of things I learned if it were not for GM.  For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Let’s take a final look back…

Saturn (1996 – 1999)

My time at Saturn showed me what a car company and culture could be like.  This was all about teamwork and respect.  I was also first introduced to Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  This was 1996.  If you read them now, they are absolutely still relevant.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This formed the basis for how I’ve shaped my career and interactions with people.

General Motors – Buick – GMC (2000 – 2010)

A lot happened in this decade.  I learned how to analyze data and form insights.  I went to 3 NCAA Final Fours (Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Atlanta) and Michigan State played in 2 of them.  I learned that automotive retail never takes time off and works hard.  Attention to detail should not be taken lightly.  Get your facts straight because it can only help you in getting a decision made in your favor.  This is where I learned to love digital, technology and social media.  I learned to stay positive and encouraging during times never seen before (GM bankruptcy).  Most importantly, I learned patience and humility.

To my former colleagues and friends at General Motors that helped shape me, I want to say THANK YOU.  That was the hardest part of the decision process for me to leave after 13 years…the people.

So now it’s time to look ahead.  I’m looking forward to what this next chapter in my career provides me.  I know I’m going to learn a lot.  Technology and the web continuously changes our view of things that have been so traditional.  My eyes and mind have already been opened just 4 days into the job.  The one thing that hasn’t changed are the (new) people that will help me grow and develop professionally.

Yes it is cliche, but change is good.  At some point, we are all presented with an opportunity that you just can’t say “no” to and this was mine.  Now it’s time to focus on what’s ahead.

What about you?  What was that one memorable moment in your life when you knew it was time to make a change?