With a red bow on

Google+ is out and its marketing approach is another smart example of anticipated curiosity to an (almost) already-conquered audience who might have grown tired of another well-known social media. It almost sounds like a sold-out show from the NKOTBSB tour. The “We have temporarily exceeded our capacity. Please try again soon” message comes as a booster for a higher desire coupled with an old value: patience. Pass the privacy issues some have already touched on, and other typical stumbles, and you have it. The killer plan proves to be a success, and not just thanks to its initiator.

The magnitude may slightly differ in the advertising part, yet introducing a change in the structure or an existing process within a company often triggers an excessively protective response from the receiving end. And that makes sense: it is only human, and the creatures of habits we are can only relate by anticipation of “what is NOT in it for me?” Regardless of how positively a message of change is presented, the selling point goes back to the buyer of the new scenario, whether money is part of the transaction or not.

One of my projects for an aerospace client was to switch from a 30-year habit that had dictated unwritten processes to a new way of tracking any single part required for the overhaul of an aircraft engine. The tradition handed down through generations had self-enforced practices I was about to question. The mission was ambitious, and somewhat aggressive. Delivering the message at first was a formality, or so I thought. I quickly realised I would need more time to get a majority buy-in to this new concept. The process change was going to directly affect four departments which had rather different interests to be listened to. This was not going to be revised overnight, like the closing of News of the World. The intention was to streamline a tracking process to reflect reality and respond to a simple question: what was in it for the company, the mechanics, the logistics team and the customers? Pretty straightforward expectation calling for a complex analysis I embarked on.

The project got stretched out to 5 full months of intense internal negotiations, debating, compromising and concluding on an upgraded set of processes. Logistically, it started to make sense right away. Financially, the first signs of savings showed up within the following quarter. Technically, my client could now offer a better turnaround time to its customers.

Lesson learned from that project, where I felt a bit like I had been thrown into the blaze without any fire suit: I may have not started on the right foot, yet I did not melt. The red bow was clearly missing when introducing the project to the stakeholders, they were certainly not anxious with excitement, yet they admitted the good of it and eventually bought in. No Boston boy band or California Internet company style to brag about, yet packaging remains an Art (and more food for thought).