Porter’s Five Forces Need an Upgrade

Teams and leaders are simply exhausted.

Horseshoe Island and Lake Memphremagog VT swim camp. Photos courtesy of Charlotte Brynn.
Horseshoe Island and Lake Memphremagog VT swim camp. Photos courtesy of Charlotte Brynn.

I am putting the finishing touches on my two summer vacations. No surprise—they both involve time with my open water swim posse!

Lake Memphremagog VT swim camp crazies. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Brynn.

Travel planning energizes me, and it’s easier now. AI and Airbnb simplify everything!

I wish I could say the same thing about what I’m witnessing in our communities.

Teams and leaders are simply exhausted.

They need more than a summer sojourn and a mint julep to recuperate. And so do I.

The first step towards recovery? Identify root causes of fatigue.

I found inspiration from Michael Porter’s Five Forces – a 40+ year old model that calibrates your organization’s competitive vulnerability in five areas. These include the threat of new entrants, bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, threat of substitutes, and industry rivalry.

As a voracious reader and loyal observer of humanity, I believe that today’s biggest threat includes five new entrants. They’re ageless, invisible, hard to track, and persistent.

Some may resonate…

The 5 Fatigue Forces

Mobile fatigue.

It took high suicide rates and a loneliness epidemic for parents and educators to notice the correlation with excessive teenage social media and smart phone use. In lieu of outdoor play, team sports, device-free summer camps, and unstructured social interactions (aka boredom), many of us cuddle up with a device.

I’m fatigued just thinking about this social shift. Thankfully, I found a sobering, solution-focused resource for you.

Check out the four-point strategy that NYU Professor and author Jonathan Haidt proposes in his latest book, The Anxious Generation. I admire his nonprofit aspirations as well. Here’s to no-phone meetings and classrooms!

Political fatigue.

In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal column, conservative columnist Karl Rove described the USA election runup as “a contest between voters’ lack of passion for Mr. Biden and their hostility toward Mr. Trump.” That summarizes the sizzling US summer political cauldron.

I live in a Washington, DC suburb where political intrigue seeps from the sidewalks. I need to work hard to manage the information barrage. It causes me unnecessary angst and fear.

Unless your job depends on it, palliate the politics and pivotal moments (debates, conventions, etc.) that lead up to November 5. Moderate your geopolitical obsessions, too. They fuel fatigue.

Here’s how I manage: no news outlets after 6 pm, and a 15-minute breaking news limit each morning. Those small habits help me focus on what I can control and where I can make a difference.

I’ll offer more antidotes during our July 12 livestream; hope you’ll join us.

Privacy fatigue.

In our private CMO peer groups, leaders love to discuss personalization’s promises. Yet they often admit the painful and delicate dance between customer privacy and digital permission.

It’s exacerbated by results from Twilio’s 2024 Customer Engagement Report

  • Only 19% of the 4,750 businesses surveyed currently have an accurate profile of their customers.
  • And while 91% of companies believe they are transparent about how AI is using customer data, only 48% of their customers think that’s the case.

What a gap!

Market-facing leaders need to do better. During our 8th CMOs Leading Innovation Conference (CLIC ’24) in New York, we provided a Readiness Checklist to address regulatory, 3rd party cookie deprecation, and generative AI privacy challenges.

We discussed how trusted brands take privacy seriously. Together with a client, we created a Readiness Checklist for CMOs.

For example, proactive digital and marketing leaders ensure they consistently review marketing practices to ensure state privacy law compliance. Second, they have established mechanisms to obtain explicit consent from their audience before collecting or processing their personal information—and to allow them to revoke consent. Third, their teams lead a company-wide process to adapt marketing and customer engagement strategies quickly when rules shift.

Want your copy of the CMO Readiness Checklist? Message me (free PDF).

Efficiency fatigue.

Several of my CEO clients have promised their boards a 15%-20% efficiency gain this year. That trickles down to growth officers and CMOs in the form of more AI use cases, revenue quotas, and ROI rigor.

Global workplace studies indicate that younger workers are feeling the squeeze. And these squeezes are not hugs! Gallup’s 2024 State of the Global Workplace (free gated download) found that global employee engagement stagnated, and well-being declined. Your future leaders–younger workers–struggle more on the job compared to their over-35 colleagues. They estimate that disgruntled teams cost an estimated $1.9 trillion in lost productivity.

In this current climate, how do you balance efficiency aspirations with human health? If you rank team engagement tracking, professional development and financial and well-being as an afterthought, or call them “soft skills,” think again. It’s time to treat them as strategic imperatives.

One more suggestion: please do not assign this to HR. Every leader needs to be held accountable for well-being and individual/team engagement goals.

Inflation fatigue.

Last month, the CMO of a global manufacturing firm contacted me. He was clearly fatigued and flustered in his new role. He had inherited a global, immature, tactical marketing organization.

Most of his team members have not lived through other inflationary times. Their customers are buying significantly fewer top name branded products and shopping for cheaper alternatives.

Yet the CEO expects them to devise a new marketing plan to double top line organic growth rates over the next five years.

Without a strategic lens and well-crafted scenario plans, this growth promise is doomed to fail.

I admire this CMO for reaching out for help. It’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle—especially when a leader has a long tenure at their company (he does).

How are you equipping your teams to conduct scenario planning during these inflationary times? How must you restructure and leverage AI to improve strategic agility? How exposed are your supply chains to unstable authoritarian countries, where inflation can catch you off guard?

The CMO I mentioned faces a tough leadership crossroads. They must quickly determine who has the potential capacity to find new customers, re-balance product portfolios, and re-align marketing and sales strategies. Their ambitious growth targets may simply be over-inflated.

Which of these five fatigue forces concern you the most? How are you fighting back? Message me privately with your thoughts.

Until then, help me fight the forces. Grab your calendar and block times for boredom. Or…join me for swim camp!

Lake Memphremagog VT swim camp crazies. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Brynn.

This was written by me, and not with any AI tools.

© 2024, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved. lisanirell.com.

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