There are many words for it--- “get a jump-start,” “hit the ground running,” “secure quick wins,” and “get a flying start.” We often hear these aspirations voiced when someone takes on a new leadership role or when an organization launches a major new strategic initiative.
At the core, these expressions are about enhancing the time to productivity (TTP). That is how quickly a person newly hired or appointed to a position can maximally contribute to fulfilling the new set of responsibilities.
On the flip side we have terms like— “winging it,” “hoping for the best,” and, of course, the American aphorism that enshrines the idea that all you need is confidence: “fake it til you make it.” Few would call any of these sound advice, but they do capture what often happens in reality, intentionally or not.
In short, starting a new position is hard but it is possible to improve TTP.
TTP has two dimensions. One is from the perspective of the newly appointed. When one takes on a new position there is often excitement but also considerable pressure and anxiety about being able to contribute to your full potential. The organization is new, team members are new, how the organization works and resources are allocated is new.
There is a lot to take in. Hence, we get expressions like “drinking from the firehose.” It often takes much longer for a new leader to be as effective as they know they can be as quickly as they would like to be. This is true even for leaders with considerable experience.
The other dimension is the perspective of the organization. Recruiters and hiring managers invest considerable time building a slate of candidates, interviewing them, and generating offers. Once a candidate is hired, there are strong expectations that they will move the organization forward in the desired. However, the actual performance can fall short from the organization’s perspective. It often takes longer than expected to assemble and task teams, coordinate across multiple stakeholders, and engage relevant contributors outside the organization, to name but a few. The result is that initiatives take longer to launch and generate value than anticipated.
These challenges are present for platform professionals, if not more so. Platform roles are complex. As I have written elsewhere, platform leadership not only requires a deep understanding of platform logic and the economics behind it but also unique orchestration and governance skills.1 Because platforms do not directly control complements that create value, persuasion and incentive design are key elements of success. Getting a handle on how persuasion and incentive design will work in practice is not something best left to “fake it til you make it.”
The tasks confronting a platform professional in a new role can be daunting. It can take weeks and even months to:
Schedule/hold multiple meetings
Coordinate and build consensus across diverse stakeholders
Identify and assess resource needs and gaps
Synthesize voluminous input
Prepare a detailed schedule
Write/distribute plan of action
There is another way. An individual leader, or a leader and their team, can engage in a structured one-day lab. The lab involves working through a series of exercises that build to a detailed plan of action. The time frame is typically 180-day but it can be adjusted to focus on a longer or shorter period. The lab focuses on addressing the following five areas:
The result is not only greater clarity over the path that should be taken to maximize impact over 180-days but a detailed calendar that captures the timing of the plan of action.
Complex initiatives have many moving parts. One action is often contingent on another. The lab is designed to surface these cause-and-effect relationships and map them to a logical task orientated timeline. By sorting out these complexities, the calendar becomes a powerful tool for improving TTP.
Comcast: Senior Marketplace Platform Manager
There are dozens of platform professional positions posted each month where this lab can be used to advance TTP. Take Comcast for example. The company is currently looking for a Senior Marketplace Platform Manager. This person will be based in New York City and serve Comcast’s FreeWheel business unit, which operates a DSP Platform. A DSP is a demand-side platform used by brands to buy mobile, search, and video ads from a marketplace on which publishers list advertising inventory.2
The Senior Marketplace Platform Manager is expected to become a key member of FreeWheel’s DSP team. He or she will report to the Senior Director, DSP Partnerships, and have responsibility for overseeing business partnerships in the US and globally. The manager will be responsible for revenue, advancing strategic partnerships, and managing senior-level day-to-day internal business. They will also be responsible for representing the platform at key industry events. The ideal candidate will need to have strong experience managing a global demand-side programmatic business and an established network of partner contacts at various levels.
Last year, Comcast announced that FreeWheel has built a new decisioning capability that enables buyers and sellers to transact across both direct-sold and programmatic advertising. The unified decisioning capability integrates capabilities that were once separate.
The new Senior Marketplace Platform Manager will quickly need to establish a plan for how these new capabilities can be leveraged for growth in the US and abroad. He or she will also need to align with the priorities of the new company-wide Chief Data Officer, who has recently been hired within the company’s Global Advertising & Partnerships division. Comcast is working to create an enterprise-wide consumer identity and data strategy that will support advertising, marketing, consumer experience and analytics use cases across NBCUniversal’s entire portfolio of consumer businesses—(TV & streaming properties and the NBC News Group to Universal Filmed Entertainment and Universal Parks & Resorts).3 The Senior Marketplace Platform Manager will need to quickly show how they are aligning and contributing to this new enterprise data strategy.
180-day Action Plans for New Platform Leaders
A focused one-day lab can be a highly effective way to enhance TTP for this new leader and their team. For the first time, Adapt has joined forces with the Platform Strategy Institute to offer the PLATFORM PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS PLAN, a focused program resulting in a detailed calendarized plan of action for platform leaders.
The Adapt/PSI Digital Platform Lab is an investment. There is important preparation that goes into setting it up. The lab itself is a full day running from between 6 to 8 hours, either in person or virtually. Experience with dozens of labs hosted by the Adapt team shows that the approach is highly effective in improving TTP. We believe it can be equally successful for platform professionals.
We look forward to working with platform leaders to drive TTP and enable them to indeed hit the ground running. 🚀