Over the last few years, we’ve seen many marketing leaders reorganize and retool their teams to better and more efficiently create the engaging, relevant and consistent experiences their audiences expect.

In many cases, these are ambitious, highly-visible change initiatives¹ and, as such, they’re not without risk: between 46%70% of change initiatives fail, with real and far-ranging financial, opportunity, resource, and morale consequences.  

With this in mind, I set out to understand how marketing leaders can manage risks to ensure the success of their initiatives.   A first step was to identify why initiatives fail, and my research yielded five inhibitors to organizational change:

  1. Employees don’t appreciate how new behaviors support new strategic objectives;
  2. “Change fatigue”² and continued availability and success of prior modes of working;
  3. Difficulty monitoring and managing for behavior adoption in real-time;
  4. Lack of early, demonstrable successes; and
  5. Difficulty refining and optimizing new processes

It follows that overcoming these obstacles should improve rates of organizational change success. Fortunately, because many of our customers have deployed Percolate while also reorganizing their teams and practices, we’ve been able to study their approaches.   

Doing so yielded five ways marketing leaders can de-risk, speed and capture the benefits of change for their teams, which I’ve discussed below.   

As we’ll see, the smart use of software, and the visibility and alignment it offers, can accelerate organizational change, and these case examples recommend its use early in change initiatives.

1. Show marketers how new workflows enable the change objectives

First, employee engagement research suggests leaders should work to ensure marketers perceive a connection between their new workflows and the proposed change objectives.

We’re seeing progressive marketing leaders approach this by using collaboration and planning software to increase internal transparency and visibility³, allowing marketers to see how their work benefits others, and aligning to higher-order projects and objectives.  

At Transition 2016, Lindsey Patzlsberger, Senior Communications Specialist at Johnson Controls and Stevie Dove, Director of Social Studio North America at SapientNitro discussed how they got their teams using and loving marketing technology

Kate Donahue’s approach to transforming her content marketing organization at App Annie illustrates the point.  Kate realized that internal visibility would be more important to her team’s engagement and success than would merely tracking and managing projects, and emphasized this in choosing technology tools.  Soon after deployment, her team is already finding new ways to work, and starting to realize efficiency and user-experience benefits from this greater visibility.

2. Harness and adapt existing workflows and behaviors

Marketing, by its nature, is collaborative and creative, and less process-driven than other disciplines. As such, and because it’s often “easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of actingmarketing leaders should seek to adapt existing, informal workflows and institutional knowledge to drive change.  

Software can help by centralizing this collaborative activity and making it visible, so it can be governed and directed to support change (and not undermine it).  

Marketing leaders at Unilever, for example, mapped and imported their existing workflows into Percolate, and then used the visibility Percolate afforded to adapt these workflows to better achieve efficiency and brand consistency objectives.

3. Monitor and manage change adoption in real-time

Because marketing activity has traditionally occurred in many different, disconnected teams and tools, leaders have lacked real-time visibility into their organizations’ activities and plans.  Reporting on such fundamental questions as “what content is live now?” and “what have we planned for an audience, market or channel?” is often time-consuming, static, and backward-looking.

However, with Marketing’s planning and collaborative activity in a centralized and visible place, leaders can monitor, guide, standardize and optimize their activity and plans in real-time – and ensure these support new strategic objectives.  

Linda Boff, Gerald Ang and their colleagues at GE found the increased visibility and alignment Percolate provided helped to accelerate change in their organization, and to achieve the increases in scale, consistency and efficiency they sought.

4. Communicate, celebrate and replicate success 

Showcasing successes created using new workflows can demonstrate the benefits of change to the wider organization, and justify the effort involved in implementing the change.  

Leading brands are now going one step further.  Beyond communicating successes internally, they’re  literally sharing these.

MasterCard uses software to share, repurpose and localize content for global audiences.  As they do so, the content team enjoys greater productivity and global consistency, while also transmitting and reinforcing new workflows and behaviors across the organization.  This comes in handy when they’re coordinating global campaigns like the Rugby World Cup, where teams at HQ must liaise with marketers on the ground to capture every moment of excitement and audience engagement.

5. Use past successes to guide continuous improvement

This visibility also allows analysis of how successful campaigns are created.

Marketing leaders at Unilever partnered with Percolate to build, monitor and adapt their existing ways of working to better achieve efficiency and brand consistency objectives.  Other Fortune 500 Percolate brands go a step further, and correlate their brand and process compliance data to campaign performance indicators, to see if (and to what extent) their guidelines predict performance – and how these should be improved.

These cutting edge insights are increasingly data-driven, and require data from points all along the marketing supply chain.  If marketing activity is centralized in a single platform, this data is much easier to collect and integrate in real-time.  For this reason, Percolate will increase our customers’ ability to visualize their marketing supply chain data throughout 2017, to enable real-time monitoring of marketing activity and compliance, and identification, prioritization and capture of improvement opportunities.  

Your marketing change management scorecard

Marketing leaders and front-line professionals can score and compare their perceptions on the following criteria to ensure they’ve fully understood current state workstreams, adapted these to suit the change objectives, and have engaged marketers as change agents.




¹ New reports of marketing reorganizations at NBC, Mondelez, ConAgra, Intel and citing Motorola and Visa illustrate the breadth and visibility of this wave of marketing change initiatives.
² Ironically, despite the difficulty, risk and time required for change (avg. 7 years), organizations begin new change initiatives every 3-5 years on average.  As such, many front-line employees are, in fact, in a state of perpetual, half-completed change.  A common response is a resigned immunity or fatigue, wherein individuals simply continue prior, informal, unarticulated workstreams and processes where possible.
³ Percolate co-founder Noah Brier distinguishes between “Transparency,” where technology enables some sharing of information, but often in a unidirectional, 1:1 way, “Visibility”, where thoughtful design enables easy discovery of crucial information as needed, and “Context”, where information and data help users make better decisions in real-time.


  1. https://hbr.org/2012/07/cultural-change-that-sticks
  2. http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00255?gko=9d35b
  3. http://www.mckinseyonmarketingandsales.com/sites/default/files/pdf/McKinsey-CMSO-Marketing-Org-of-the-Future.pdf http://www.mckinseyonmarketingandsales.com/digital-transformation-the-three-steps-to-success
  4. http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/cultures-and-change-infographic