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Each professional has exciting work-related stories to tell. Mine is about an idea on mentoring about digital business challenges in digital form. And what role a digital mentor can play, to make you stay relevant in a market place place. As a complement to mentors you meet in person.
The nature of mentoring about digital in digital form
Mentoring is going through its own digital transformation. Large portions of the workforce need to pick up digital skills fast. The available mentors with the right digital skills are few and busy. A reality forcing each mentee to look for digital complements to their human mentors.
This reality and my own development needs nurtured an idea. What if you could provide mentor like advice about the digital markets and share in digital form? And make it work. As an enabler for accelerating the digital development journey many will go through. And support a pace of knowledge transfer which is faster than the market development.
Still not sure if it works as intended. But below are 6 valuable insights you can consider stable.
Strive for progress before perfection
Existing businesses are great at being better and better at what they do. But they are not good at being different. An existing business is about seeking perfection and being a little bit better today than yesterday. Digital does not follow classic business logic. And is more about being different than better at something well known.
Digital is about daring to do, before you know. Where the transformation of culture and mindsets is an important part of the journey. A reality that can be very hard to accept if your previous professional life was a journey about perfection. And a search for perfection by avoiding failure.
Out of everything I have read and experienced the culture transformation, three words stand out. words. Strive for ‘progress before perfection’ on your journey. Both as a leader and as an individual contributor. And if you struggle with grasping it, think about what it was like to get your drivers license. What you did on your early driving classes.
Digital bring marketing & sales tight together
Digital cannot operate in silos. Marketing is no longer about generating leads for sales to close. Sales is no longer about responding to well defined needs and closing opportunities. Both are joint stakeholders in advancing customer opportunities. On terms defined by the buyer. A buyer who in the B2B world is a diverse and growing team of professionals.
Digital businesses require marketers and sales professionals with a digital mindset. United with a common view on customers’ decision journeys. Where each step is an opportunity to help customers to take decisions to get closer to a buying decision. An engagement moving back and forth between digital and human interactions. Often in iterations rather than linear steps. Where the best integrated sales and marketing teams operate with common goals.
Few of my colleagues would label me as a sales professional. But I have always aspired to be the sales persons’ best friend. Aiming to provide the right support today for a successful customer meeting tomorrow. Resulting in small decisions towards a final buying decision. The essence of where sales and marketing are cooperating to advance customer priorities.
Learning fast is better than knowing much
Digital is a learning intensive arena. Challenging your perspectives on yourself. Especially if you in your professional role were a go-to person for knowing markets or technology. You will face a tough cross road. Do you dare to abandon the expert role in your classic business? To become a master in learning the new business realities.
Digital push you into a new territory. Where your ability to learn and learn fast is your new personal differentitator. On top of that the most important learning coming from own experiences. Experiences in the customer interface enabling new innovations. University degrees give you a platform to operate from. But put learning from customers on top of your daily to do list. It is the new number one job for marketing and sales professionals. Your customer insights reshape value creation and articulation. Defined around the customer value adding flows that matter the most.
I was fortunate to get introduced to a method called extreme reflections. And applied it weekly to secure the learning never stops. A priceless tool I suggest you consider for your own development. Where sharing new insights is a part of getting learning to stick. PL introduced me to this valuable tool. And now a daily business companion.
Digital journeys become better by adopting lean early
Combining digital and classic ways of working is an option. Leaving a lot of the potential gains on the table. And with a high risk of falling short of expectations. The alternative approach is to embrace lean thinking and principles before you go digital.
Take a deep look at how you work today and challenge yourself about where and how to become better. Which flows are repetitive in nature? Which flows are critical for the customer values you create? Which flows will become better with a lean approach? Do we steer towards maximizing resource or flow efficiency? Or is our primary metrics about minimizing cycle times? And in which order do we best realize lean flows? Good flows can become even greater with digital. But poor flows cannot become great by just digitizing of your old approaches.
My lean experiences come from applying lean thinking in sales supporting functions. Where lean thinking and focus on reducing turn-around times transformed our team’s output. Changing perspectives on vital operational cornerstones. Such as operational horizons, goal setting, and cadence for team meetings.
Digital insights are shared in bytes, not books!
Digital market rely on instant insights. You face a new problem now. You need to find a solution now. With time from when you learn to when you must teach is getting shorter and shorter.
There are great books to consider. But digital knowledge is best shared in bytes not books. Look for blogs covering digital topics you want to learn about. Find podcasts you can listen to during workouts or commutes to and from work. And turn it into a habit to share your own insights often. You don’t have to set the bar at writing a book. But you need to share bytes often to become and remain an influencer when your organization goes digital.
Think through how you want to share your insights. Never dumb it down when you can crisp it up. And human to human communication never go viral as fast as digital.
Look for digital mentors among mid managers and early career professionals
You don’t find digital mentors where you find normal mentors. The combination of senior leadership skills and deep digital experience is a rare combination. It is not digital business that created current senior leaders’ careers.
Look for digital mentors among middle managers and early career professionals. A middle manager who has embraced digital on his/her own initiative. Before pushed down as a strategic decision or directive. Or an early career professional grown up digital. Who can reverse mentor you about digital skills. Real life mentor-mentee relationships can become better with a digital complement. Adding value on top of your human mentoring relationships. Providing edge competence in areas neither you nor your mentor/s master.
My digital journey started 6 years ago with a reversed mentor relation. Where I could learn from an early career professional. And her sister 11 time-zones a way. Thank you AG, without your early support I would still be analogue. You both saved me time and allowed me to build digital courage at the same time.
Summary and key-takeaways
Thank you for reading to the end. What you now can consider adopting is
- Progress before perfection – summarize the required culture shift.
- Digital bring marketing and sales tight together – pipeline velocity doesn’t live in silos.
- Learning fast is better than knowing much – set yourself up for a learning intensive journey
- Digital journeys become better by adopting lean early – starting with customer value adding flows first.
- Digital insights are shared in bytes not books – embrace digital sharing and learning.
- Look for digital mentors among middle managers and early career professionals – human and digital.
Dare to be digital. you will be rewarded well.