Michael Mancuso On The Business Of Transformation Posted on | LinkedIn


As Global Head of Business Transformation for MullenLowe Profero, I wanted to ask some of today’s top leaders about their experiences in business transformation, how they’ve helped transform their organizations and where/how they see business transformation and priorities in their industries changing in the coming years. This is the idea behind my interview series, The Business of Transformation.

I’m thrilled to release my latest interview piece with digital experience consultant Mike Mancuso. Most recently Head of Digital Analytics and Product Owner at The Wendy’s Company, Mike has 15 years experience working with emerging tech startups, Fortune 500 companies and iconic brands to solve organizational problems and meet customer needs through the use of technology.

While Mike sees this time of digital transformation centered around how we do things – incorporating new technologies, developing best practices, leveraging data and intelligence – what we should really focus on is a need to transform how we work. The outdated hierarchies and structures of the past are holding many companies back in this digital age, while new startups realize the need to structure themselves around solving customer needs through effective agile teams.

“To me when I look at transformation, it is as much about creating something new and innovative as much as it is coming up with new and innovative ways to create,” explains Mike.

As he points out, two companies within the industry with equally talented people and the right martech products will achieve radically different outcomes based on the structure of the teams and how they respond to customer feedback.

“I think that’s where the real magic of digital falls. It’s coming up with almost a democratized force that’s allowing real disruption based on how people are organizing to deliver work,” Mike says.

As data has matured, the ability to ingest and synthesize information in real-time has resulted in almost real-time customer feedback. As Mike explains, those organizations that can meet customer expectations and quickly adapt based on feedback will be the ones that thrive.

“In digital, we just can’t afford to follow the plan. The plan needs to adapt constantly as we learn new lessons.”

Mike believes there are five essential ingredients in creating a successful digital department:

  1. Unity around an understanding of a shared vision: While he admits Wendy’s still had a lot to learn, they focused on building a journey for all customers to “meet them where they were and give them the things that they enjoy.”
  2. Focus: Mike would often walk his teams through prioritization exercises and workshops. By sharing each other’s knowledge and experiences, they created a strong sense of focus as a team.
  3. Teams – the need for shifting how teams are organized: In the past, teams have always been functionally siloed. But it’s essential to bring teams together and empower them to structure themselves with the end goal of shifting deliverables to outcomes – solving a real customer need (rather than their success being the work produced itself).
  4. Agility: With teams organized around solving real customer needs, as a leader, you next have to figure out how to help them do this effectively. Mike uses the Scrum@Scale framework, which he says has added value in helping teams discover problems and challenges quickly to deliver near real-time resolutions.
  5. Value: In order to add value to your customers, you have to understand what they truly want and expect. As Mike explains, “there’s an art and a science to determining what a minimum viable product or a releasable campaign is to customers.” With consumer sentiment and expectations constantly shifting, Mike leverages Kano studies to help keep an effective pulse on the market and consumers in order to consistently deliver impactful experiences that resonate.

When it comes to crafting those impactful customer experiences, “Moments of Delight” as Mike calls them, the digital expert challenged his team to turn what could be a negative experience into a positive one.

Looking back at a favorite example, Mike recalled the success of Wendy’s migration from its legacy CMS to Acquia. Not all of the site’s legacy content would make the migration cut, resulting in some redirects and broken pages for users. How could the team remove the friction and frustration of an error page, and convert it to a delightful experience?

The answer… an interactive, custom clone of the retro arcade game “Burgertime.” When a user landed on a 404 page on any device, he/she was presented the opportunity to build a 444 (reference to Wendy’s popular 4 for $4 combo meal – burger, fries, chicken nuggets and a drink) by moving Wendy Thomas across the game screen.

“It’s taking those opportunities where you know there may be a moment that’s less than ideal and coming up with a fun, innovative way to leave a lasting impression with your customers,” Mike explains.

“I am a firm proponent of being a coach that helped my teams deliver. I trust in them, and I know that they’re going to give me the best they can. It’s my job to remove barriers and empower their good ideas.”

One of the hardest things any organization, team or individual has to conquer is the element of change as the only constant. As a self-described “change agent by default,” Mike says in order to be effective you must possess a bit of a Rosetta Stone because each audience needs to hear something slightly different about the benefits of transformation in order to embrace the change needed.

“More often than not, I distill whatever the initiative is as concentrated value for the company,” says Mike.

When communicating with the executive leadership team, he would focus on the financial opportunity and the efficiencies gained, as leadership cares about increases to average order value, the average user frequency and the impact on the bottom line. While designers and developers are more focused on the experiences they are creating.

“An effective change agent meets people where they are with the message they need to hear and then educates them. So end to end, there’s an understanding of the value behind what we’re doing,” explains Mike.

“I find once people understand the vision and understand how everything fits together, they’re a lot more supportive of change. Everyone wants to go to a good place. It’s making sure they have the information needed so they feel like they’re heading there and that light at the end of the tunnel is in fact a light and not a train.”

With advances in data science and interoperability, Mike believes the ability to serve truly personalized omni-channel experiences to users will be a top priority for businesses transforming in next 24 months. Customers don’t just want to be met where they are, they want to be met with something that resonates and matters to them in order to create a more meaningful relationship with a brand.

Past generations shared a strong sense of community that is no longer present in societies across the world.

To drive his point home, Mike told me the tail of his grandmother settling in America after WWII. Coming from a small village in Greece where there was a community kitchen everyone gathered at to cook together, she was astonished that everyone had their own kitchen. She felt some of that community was lost by this modernization, but with big expansive front porches, people were still getting to know their neighbors.

A couple decades later, people looking for more privacy moved from their porch or front yard to their backyard, and eventually to inside their homes, resulting in a further loss of touch with their communities.

“Our children have grown up in an environment sometimes absent from community and they look to the internet as a way to equalize and find that sense of connection. The challenge is, most of the experiences there don’t create an authentic, meaningful relationship,” explains Mike.

“I think in the next 24 months, if companies aren’t creating meaningful, deep connections and really striking a chord with emotional resonance they’re likely going to find themselves behind the curve and other brands who have figured out the recipe will emerge as being the dominant leaders in those spaces.”

Ben Mooney, Global Head of Business Transformation, MullenLowe Profero

This article was originally published on LinkedIn