Seven Critical Marketing Skills: #3 Action Orientation

Sycamore and Company has identified the Seven Critical Skills which separate successful marketing executives from the rest of the pack. This post focuses on critical skill #3: Action Orientation, and the ability to take risks.

About Our Seven Critical Marketing Skills Series

Critical Marketing Skill #3 -  Action Orientation

"Things may come to he who waits, but it's the things left by those who act."

Once a business’s vision is set and the intuition has led to breakthrough ideas and innovation has translated those ideas into products and programs, it is time to execute.  There was a time when senior executives would delegate the execution.  No longer.  Our executives were very consistent in their belief that to be the leader, you must act.  They talked about courage, decisiveness, passion and risk taking.  All these are included in their definition of being Action Oriented.

 “More importantly than ever before, you’ve got to have somebody who gets things done.  And, one of the changes that a successful marketer has had to evolve through is you can’t just be a good analyzer anymore.  You can’t just make good conclusions.  You’ve got to be a roll-up-your-sleeves, action-oriented individual to be successful.  The world of classical marketing and ivory tower marketing is dead.” 

“I think that anyone that’s expected to be a visionary needs to be decisive and have the confidence and leadership credentials to drive the does no one any good to have the vision and then not have the courage to follow it through.” 

“You can have all these great ideas.  You can hire all these smart people.  But, if you just sit around and contemplate your navel all day... you’ve got great theories and you’ve got great vision, but you’re not making anything happen...You’ve got to have a sense of urgency.  And, you’ve got to drive that constantly...your bias is to get things done...” 

Throughout this study, we have repeatedly talked about speed to market, about the faster rate and pace that exists today.  Unfortunately, people still haven't completely translated that into changes in their own actions.

“I think some companies are very good on the action side.  And other companies are very good on the strategy side.  And, I think the complexity of the world, the fast paced nature of the world which you could say is aided by technology and everything else, puts a premium on speed.  So having a strategy, sticking with a strategy, having a vision and then being able to take action against that is a competitive necessity...” 

“’s amazing to me, at least at (my company) how few people really understand the impact of time.  The dimension of time... many people are just talking data and content without regard for the constraint of time.” 

Taking action means being willing to accept some risk.  And once again, risk taking is not something that can be taught – but it sure can be killed in a person. Too often, companies talk about encouraging their people to take risks only to come down hard on them if the risks don't pay off.  If the risks always payoff, then they are not risks.  If all you reward is success, no one will take chances and you will never hit the long ball.

Much like our earlier discussion of intuition and creativity, it is important for companies to find ways to encourage natural risk takers to take risks and to manage them – to help them better understand how and when to take risks, to manage their risks and to prepare for the downside as well as the upside of decisions with risk.

“...for the most part, life is about progress and you can only make progress if you take some risks and act.  It’s better to act and to be 80% right than not to act and be 100% right...generally in organizations, there’s lots of ways to feel productive that really don’t have anything necessarily to do with getting something to market and getting a result.” 

“I think you need doers... action orientation may also be another way of saying risk.  People who take risks.  And I think if you’re somebody who in my opinion is really going to make a difference in my organization,  you have to have the self-confidence to take risks and to move things along and to take actions and to know that occasionally things aren’t going to turn out like you expected.  But, if you’re not comfortable with that then you’re not going to push hard enough.  And, if you don’t push hard enough, then you’re not going to bring all the value that your employer hired you for.”