What if you were offered the opportunity to join a team focused on changing the way an organization does business around the world? Would you take it? I signed up for this inspiring challenge, leading and collaborating with teams to shift the trajectory of business management by step-changing our global eCommerce efforts, and through the last 3 years I experienced pivotal aha moments that have stretched me as a leader.
Before broaching the subject, I must say I love a challenge! The ever-changing retail landscape presents one that affects how we all socialize, shop, and engage with brands, and I was and am enthused to lead and work with teams to decipher, build, and innovate for the future.
Aha #1: A key to leading change is teaching and rallying people.
I work at a large, complex multinational organization that has been on a journey redefining its corporate strategy. Amidst this transformation I accepted the proposal to develop an eCommerce strategy for operations spanning North and South America.
Firstly, I internalized that there were varying thresholds for change across the organization. Doing something new whilst many parts of a team, process, or role were in fluctuation could feel like a daunting job to be done for some, and with initial pushback I quickly learned I needed to lessen change resistance through education and teaching. I rooted my ‘lesson plans’ in the digital journey. My ‘students’ needed to understand this journey was led by the consumer, the same consumer who they were trying to reach, but in new digital ways. Often times I asked how my ‘students’ own personal shopping behaviors have changed over the last 5 to 7 years. Through the ‘course’ we discussed why, and who drove these changes, and through further collaboration, call them ‘group projects’, we strategized how we would get in the driver’s seat backed by a new GPS on the journey towards the consumer.
It is no surprise that many manufacturers across the CPG landscape are at various stages of digital transformation. Some are still at the phase of simply embracing the idea they need to change. in this role, I was able to utilize practiced strategies of presenting the shared value of change and ultimately built champions for change across the organization.
Aha #2: Fail fast, bounce back, and use the learnings to inform the next move.
With change comes newness. Whilst unpredictability is a constant, change augments the unpredictability. To this end, under, or over, delivery of expectations exists. The latter is exciting and forever welcome. The former can be difficult pending an organization’s aptitude for ‘failing’.
Fortunately, my leadership has fostered a sense of entrepreneurship, enabling my team and I to test, learn, and bounce back with learnings from attempts to inform performance optimization.
My second aha was experienced after results did not pan out as expected launching a brand on a new eCommerce retailer platform. We reviewed and re-reviewed plans, aligned on opportunities for improvement, and of critical importance was that we held steadfast to the idea of failing fasting.
Aha #3: Practice presence and gratitude always.
The third aha came not as a result of success or failing fast. It came in the pursuit. Building and cultivating relationships can be done virtually but I found that in-person collaboration expedited the rapport building process, particularly with a regional scope with a multitude of cultures and business practices. With this comes travel.
Last year was the most expansive travel experience of my professional career, visiting US domestic regional offices and country hubs every-other-week. The days were dynamic and long, and when it became habit it all sped by fast. Too fast. Upon recognizing that these fantastic experiences were then so quickly flashing, I cemented the practice of presence and gratitude reflection through journaling and yoga in every city or country I visited.
In summary, I hope that these 3 aha moments I’ve experienced act as a point of inspiration for you readers in whichever position you are in leading the pack in the pursuit of change and organizational transformation.
Donte McCrary-McClain is currently a Senior Manager of Global eCommerce Business Development at Newell Brands focused on North and South America. He leads a team building and implementing go-to-market eCommerce global growth strategies across a variety of key Pure Play and Brick and Click customer partners and Direct-to-Consumer platforms.