Tips for managing integrated media projects | Ekayamedia

The Bosasa eKayaMedia Team Approach

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Bosasa Media Jason Stoltz

In the media and advertising industries as a whole, having multiple projects on the go, all within ‘yesterday’ deadlines is a given. Having a single campaign or project with multiple requirements is also fairly common, but not as easy to manage, considering the ‘multiple projects’ running alongside it all competing for the same resources. Things get even harder when processes are not followed, and team resources are being misdirected within the greater production work flow.

At the Bosasa Marketing and branding support service unit (or eKayaMedia as it is affectionately becoming known), some key high level pointers the team follows are listed below. This is to avoid getting into a situation where too many people are all doing different but the same thing, with nothing being done as a result in the end:

  • Have a clear structure to your team, with well-defined and communicated responsibilities

Make sure everyone knows what they need to be doing, how they get their work assigned to them, and give them the confidence that they can stick to those processes no matter who tries to steer them of course. Of course when senior members of staff such as board members (like Ishmael Mncwaba, or Joe Gumede for example) require urgent work, this will naturally get preference, but it MUST be communicated by the team member back into the overall process so that project priorities can be shifted around, and the whole team is kept in the loop.

  • Begin with the end in mind

In a blog called ‘Truth-Online’, posted on the 19th Jan 2012, Gavin Watson, CEO of the Bosasa group wrote to his leadership team in a post titled ‘Leadership in action’. Part of the message stressed the need for leaders to ‘begin with the end in mind’ which explained that teams need to commence work with a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish. In Media terms, that means get ‘the brief’ right from the beginning. Even though clients very rarely know exactly what it is they want, by having a clear understanding of the scope of work, and who needs to do what to get the job done, does wonders when tight deadlines need to be achieved. Clients continually moving the goal posts only cause frustration when the job needs to delivered, so account managers need to at all times try to extract that information from the client, and be prepared for speed wobbles along the way.

  • Commit to the deadline balancing insourced and outsourced resources

Even in the most well-structured and resourced teams (like the Bosasa eKayaMedia team), it is necessary to constantly weigh up costs and time in getting a job done, and make decisions to either facilitate production in-house, or outsource that specific factor of production. Something that may be relatively cheap to do in-house may need to be outsourced because of the time it takes to complete. An example of this is finishing which could include printing, cutting, laminating and binding. If say 100 books to ‘finish’ costs more to outsource than to insource, but means that 3 of your internal team will be consumed by the ‘finishing job’ for a full week, it actually means that they will not be doing other activities such as required design or administrative tasks essential for the delivery of the project to deadline. This is known as the ‘opportunity cost’ of work forgone. In this case it makes sense to pay the extra to outsource and in doing that one can make sure that the right resources are freed up to deliver the project to deadline. This also allows the team to continue production on the long line of other projects waiting to be completed.

Balancing the demands of customers is a very difficult thing to do, especially when you have ‘difficult customers’. However if your team is well structured and empowered, the brief and scope of work is clear, and you have the right balance of managing a project through your internal and external resource networks, you may yet have a shot of becoming a successful media mogul!

JS

Innovating Bosasa Marketing

What Innovation means to the Bosasa Marketing & Branding unit

Ok, so ‘innovation’ can easily be confused with invention and vis-à-vis. Problem is that every company or business unit needs innovation to keep functioning in this turbulent world of work, but very few of us are Einstein’s or Edison’s.

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Jason Stoltz on Bosasa Innovation

 

So what do we actually need to do to be innovative? I have listed a few things I am aware of when that scary word innovation gets used in a meeting…

Firstly you need to understand what innovation means in general, and only then how it applies to your own areas of expertise. Anyone can run a search for innovation on dictionary sites (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/innovation) or wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innovation) but this will however only confuse you if you are not sure how to translate it into your own environment. 

The simplified understanding of ‘innovation’ that Gavin Watson and Ishmael Mncwaba have taught me here at Bosasa is that it involves continuously looking for new and better ways of doing things that will increase shareholder value without increasing net costs or compromising quality! 

Secondly you have to know your own working environment back to front. By this I mean you have to know all your own processes, tasks and activities like the back of your hand. When you put the general definition of ‘innovation’ next to the way you do things in your business, you start to develop an understanding of innovative principles in your own working environment. In other words, what can I do that will increase my value proposition without compromising quality or increasing net cost? 

Thirdly, research research research! Run searches on the internet to see what other businesses or professionals in the same line of work as you are doing differently, and if it is working for them or not, and why. In other words, always track the trends in your industry and see what technologies are emerging that could possibly help you do things better and faster without compromising quality

Fourthly you must try to simulate a new process idea or technological ‘innovation’ in your environment to see if it will in fact work for you, and then cost it out. If the cost of the ‘innovation’ will be more than it will return for the business or business unit (in other words if the value is less than what you are currently achieving), then it is clearly not innovative! If it will however speed up production without losing quality and will not increase your overall cost-profit margin, then it is a no brainer

Lastly you need to remember that you have to sell your ‘innovation’ to the shareholders to ultimately generate buy in. No matter how good an innovation may seem, getting buy in from all stakeholders is critical for the innovation to be successful. Also, you need to remember that resources are generally scarce, and you may be competing with other business units for funding, so make sure your homework is done properly before you present to well clued-up directors like Bosasa’s chairman Joe Gumede or Bosasa Group board member Jackie Leyds.

The key to innovation as a leader is to make sure you are always tracking trends thereby adopting an approach of ‘continuous improvement’. This is referred to as the ‘Kaizen philosophy’ for which the Toyota Production System is well known.

JS

Marketing & Branding Strategy

How I approach Strategy within the marketing and branding unit at Bosasa

Apart from managing the daily operations of the Bosasa marketing and branding division, and providing coaching, mentorship and motivation to my team, strategy development serves as a very central part of my job.

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 Jason Stoltz

Reporting to Angelo Agrizzi (Bosasa Group COO) and Papa Leshabane (Director of Media and Communications for the Bosasa Group), communications, marketing, branding and media strategies are my main areas of responsibility.

There are many ways to develop strategy, but I have found that a few simple tricks help me to design fairly large complex strategies that can be implemented effectively. My broad approach to putting a strategy together includes the following main processes:

Understand your Brief Clearly – We need to analyse and make sure what is actually required from the Bosasa ‘Design-House’ from our clients or our leadership (be it Sondolo IT, Kgwerano Fleet Services, or Ishmael Mncwaba / Joe Gumede etc.). This is the most critical part of the process. If you don’t really know what you are expected to do, your strategy will have holes in, and this can cost time, money and even your reputation as a ‘head of department’!

Research Research Research – Doing your homework properly and quickly is the key to making sure that you do not only understand the brief as mentioned before, but understand what others have done in the past. By looking at previous failures and successes of similar instances both inside and outside the organisation, you can start to see the do’s and don’ts of developing such a strategy.

Map your Strategy Out – I have personally found that by mapping my thoughts out, I am able to graphically see different parts of a strategy and how they all link together. The general rule here is to not go into too much detail as you could be mapping for days. Map out the factors surrounding the task at hand with only enough points to trigger you when you actually sit down to write your strategy.

Put your Head Down – Cancel all your appointments, take the phone off the hook, and sit and physically write your strategy out. By closing off all distractions, you force yourself into a position where you need to put your head down do the actual job you set out to do.

Use a Sounding Board – By sounding your strategy off with peers, mentors and even other areas of management, you can get a good idea of how others see what you have put together. Ask them to ‘test’ or ‘break’ your strategy, or to raise objections. This will give you the insight you need to refine it before you present it to the relevant stakeholder or custodian.

The Pitch – Be sure to be well versed and come from an absolute position of knowledge when you pitch your strategy to its custodian. That will create buy-in, and after a few tweaks or changes from the custodian’s part you will be ready to implement.

 As implementing a strategy, and then evaluating its effectiveness are whole ‘animals’ on their own, I will leave those topics for a later post. At Bosasa, successful strategy creation is constantly encouraged. By empowering strategy development at all levels within the organisation, each team starts to move toward a cycle of innovation and continuous improvement.

JS

Team Building at Bosasa

Our approach to Team-Building at the Bosasa Marketing and Branding division…

Over the past three and a half years, the Bosasa Marketing and Branding support service, or ‘Design House’ as it is known, has grown from a cluster of 5 people to 21 team members to date (Dec 2011).

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 Jason Stoltz BosasaWhile developing this team under the leadership of Angelo Agrizzi and Papa Leshabane, I found the following 7 practises being essential in making sure that the Bosasa Marketing division is team-building continuously as it operates:

 1. Employ the right people
Just making sure that a new team member has the right skills or qualifications is not enough. Their personality needs to fit to the culture of the rest of the team to make sure the team works well together.
 
 2. Provide the right tools
 Staff work well individually and as a unit if they are properly equipped with the right tools to get the job done.

 
 3. Trust and empower
Buy adopting a business philosophy of ‘trust and empower’ as opposed to ‘command and conquer’ (which Gavin Watson once explained to me), team-building almost comes naturally as each person understands their role and function and how they plug into the greater vision of the company. They become assertive and confident that they contribute rather than simply ‘do what they are told’

 
 4. Stimulate creativity
Even though the Bosasa marketing and branding team is ‘supposed to be’ creative because we deliver marketing and branding concepts, creativity in terms of the way we pack our marketing materials, or the way we organise our workspace must be encouraged at a full team level. This way we get numerous creative solutions or options, and doing it together as a group makes everyone know they are just as important as the next person.

 
 5. Brainstorm together
By scheduling regular meetings, discussing problems and challenges, and asking all appropriate team members on their approach to solving these problems gets the collective thinking going. By all members of the team bouncing ideas around each member in turn starts to feed off the other’s ideas and this creates a closer working respect and relationship between team members

 
 6. Make the job fun
By encouraging different members of the team to play their own music in the design studio as one example, I have found that a friendly banter between staff members has brought the team closer together. This makes the environment fun and challenging, and doesn’t let the feeling of only serious work all the time dominate the atmosphere within the team.

 
 7. Meet outside of work
Angelo Agrizzi
reminded me that we (as people in a corporate world) generally spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our families. By meeting with work colleagues from time to time in an environment outside of the office or work environment, friendships can develop. Once friendships develop, a greater sense of social belonging emerges, and I have found that this enhances the team-building element within the whole division even further.

Some people think that team-building is an ‘event’ of some sort, like paintball games or obstacle courses. My view on team-building is that it needs to be a continuous and conscious management function which is aimed at delivering products and services at greater levels of speed and efficiency, while not compromising quality.

JS