Case Study 2:
Developing commercial reality in a creative environment
Working in a Sales and Marketing Division of the world’s largest
spirits company we were asked to help develop fundamental changes to
the way projects were managed. The culture of this division encouraged
creativity and innovation to such a degree that commercial reality often
got lost in the process, resulting in pressure from the parent company
to improve financial performance. One senior manager remarked that it
would be innovative for people within the company to “run a marketing
campaign that was within budget and resulted in sales targets being
achieved.” Therefore, our role was to help develop a process that
channelled creative energies and innovative ideas within a framework
of commercial reality.
This required a major change not only to the behaviour and attitude
of the middle management and senior staff but also at executive level
in the way they directed people and projects. We designed a process
that facilitated live project teams as they worked on business projects.
It provided a structure to ensure effective communication and planning
through clarification of goals, individual responsibilities, and working
relationships. In the initial stages the sponsoring director/s were
involved to open up effective communication channels and ensure detailed
clarification of goals and expectations. Teams were coached and supported
during planning, in the early stages of project implementation, and
at other key stages in the projects.
All projects were reviewed in detail and a summary of learning presented
to the Executive team. This established a framework for all project
work and established clear roles for the directors in guiding projects
across the company. Key learning points were as follows:
- Working in a more structured way could
enhance creativity rather than hampering it.
- A framework of clearly defined roles and
boundaries helped to provide direction and focus. This stopped projects
from wandering off at a tangent and getting lost in “marketing
speak,” rather than addressing the underlying issues affecting
- By finding new ways to work together, people
from different functions (marketing, finance, production) could enhance
one another’s performance rather than block it, as had happened
in the past.
The process resulted in the successful completion of a number of key
projects: they channelled creative ideas, yet came in on time and within
budget; in addition the individuals working on the projects developed
a more rigorous commercial approach. This was recognised as a contributory
factor in the company’s overall achievement of its business plan
targets during the year.