Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Marketing Mediocrity - The Silent Killer Of An Enterprise

The Need To Recognize and Purge Mediocrity From The Marketing Organization

Mediocrity is the silent killer of an enterprise. It is easily transmitted from one person to another - one department to another - until it becomes a pandemic. It is a threat to every organization and most pronounced in the larger bureaucracies. The source of mediocrity is a person who performs to the minimum acceptable standards, i.e. performance that is just good enough to get by. These people could be young or old, male or female, executive or staff level, new to the company or one with a long tenure. Their impact on the enterprise is disruptive in a stealth way. Others witness this mediocrity and, if they do not see it challenged, begin to doubt a company's committment to excellence. Then the "if they don't care, then I don't care" syndrome rears its ugly head.

Mediocrity is a bigger problem in the marketing arena where a company communicates with the outside world. If mediocrity pervades products and services offered, fertile ground has been created for competitors to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. Here the repercussions can be catastrophic and the historical examples are many.

The American automobile industry for years were the world leaders with the likes of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Over time, the quality of American cars eroded and new models no longer captured the excitement of the American consumer. Along comes the Japanese - where quality, new models, service, and performance are superior to their U.S. competitors. Mediocrity had infected the American car industry. Products were just okay, but no match for the Japanese. It is unlikely that the U.S. car industry will ever regain its former dominance. This year, Toyota, for the first time will be the Number One seller of cars in the United States. Mediocrity did the U.S. in. For every company that suffers from mediocrity, there is a competitor plotting its demise. There is no gentle way to deal with this problem. Mediocre people and their performance must be purged from the organization. Darwin's tenet still applies. Survival of the fittest. The title of Tom Peters' best selling book was not "In Search of Mediocrity".

What is the formula?
  1. Hire and encourage people who strive for excellence and will not settle for anything less.
  2. Set high standards of performance - make no compromises
  3. Encourage those that push the envelope, that think outside the box, that take personal initiative
  4. Don't compliment average work. No one ever inspired with "Keep up the fair work".
  5. Reward on merit, not on tenure. Promoting a mediocre performer exascerbates the problem.
  6. Encourage people to get out of their comfort zone which is a breeding ground for mediocrity.
  7. Celebrate the best

In summary, rid the marketing organization of the silent killer while there is still time.