When were looking at marketing procurement spend, too often people (clients) want to focus on very broad issues that they have and want to solve. Sometimes this takes the form of “how can I buy this for less” other times it can be a much broader set of issues such as “why cant my agency hit the brief first time every time”.
In order to address this type of problem at 4C we’ve developed a methodology within the marketing procurement space that uses Lean Six Sigma to bring to the fore the core issues and work out what the root case of the problem is.
The development of this programme is rooted in our direct procurement origins and more particularly in manufacturing. Lean has been around since the 1980s, in particular out of Toyota and their Toyota Production System, at it’s core its about the elimination of waste in order to improve overall customer value.
Whilst this works for manufacturing I can see a whole host of CMOs gesticulating wildy that it can never work within the marketing space. In reality it can and does, the types of waste or defect are just different to that of manufacturing.
When we apply this within the realm of marketing it really is about understanding the root cause of the problems. For example when the client cant see why the agency doesn’t hit the brief first time, the reasons can be many and varied but could include: 1. Bad briefing, 2. too short a timeline, 3. constant changes to the brief or 4, inconsistent feedback from stakeholders.
These I’m sure you’ll agree are all common place issues that may crop up on any number of jobs. These “wastes” are there and cause tension, cost and friction within the system but they’re probably not deliberate and in fact it might not be anyone’s fault. The essence within this is that in order to change the behaviour and stop the waste, you have to understand why it happens in the first place.
This application of Lean may be a revelation within the marketing space, but its always interesting to see the application in other areas. I recently read an article from Charles Duhigg, Senior Editor at the New York Times where he talks about the application of Lean in his house. A really good little read, you can find it HERE.
Understanding the true cause of the problem can really help deliver a better result overall. Our Lean approach is a great mechanic to help companies deliver this. From a marketing procurement perspective it’s not always about savings, its about solving the problem and making the system easier to work with. The savings will come through efficiencies in the end.