Last evening I was with Alan Crawley of Optima Partners (specialists in marketing function transformation) talking about marketing operating models. A most stimulating discussion. Parallel to this I have been in a LinkedIn discussion with Peter Murchland about capability maps. In it we were using marketing as an example, or, as a capability map would call it, “marketing management”.
I started the dialogue with Peter like this “I find a capability such as “marketing management” is a dangerous abstraction because “marketing management of a restaurant” is a very different capability from “marketing management of a toothpaste” which is a different capability from “marketing management of a consulting service”. Yet I have never seen a capability defined with this degree of specificity.”
The dialogue then focused on the marketing challenges of Ashridge Business School where we have tailored courses, open courses, qualifications courses, weddings and research outputs such as books and articles. I was suggesting that these may all be different kinds of marketing capability, but capability mapping does not make it easy to consider these differences because all of these types of marketing would be captured under the term “marketing management”.
Peter commented, “Taking one line of investigation, where I use APQC Process Classification Framework as an indirect path to capabilities (which surround processes), process 3 is Market and Sell Products and Services.
This is composed of:
3.1 Understand markets, customers and capabilities
3.2 Develop market strategy
3.3 Develop sales strategy
3.4 Develop and manage marketing plans
3.5 Develop and manage sales plans
This would indicate that the marketing capability can be considered to comprise three capabilities:
a) Market assessment
b) Market strategy
c) Marketing planning
We could then consider each of these capabilities (and associated processes). For example, market strategy relies upon:
i) Value proposition development
ii) Pricing strategy development
iii) Channel strategy development
(Note: this decomposition does not yet address the differences you have highlighted)”
This response seemed to illustrate the problem of a capability approach rather well. The issue that seems to me most important in this part of the Ashridge Business School operating model is relegated to a note in brackets at the end of Peter’s analysis.
Peter’s follow on comment tried to address “the differences you have highlighted”.
“When I look at the different types of marketing you have nominated, several considerations come to mind:
a) what are you encompassing within “marketing” – the market strategy element or the promotional element – two quite distinct activities
b) there may be distinct differences that emerge in dealing with products versus services
c) the differences may be addressed through the competencies of one individual performing the entire marketing function (in which case it is a moot point and unnecessary level of detail to accommodate in the capability model)”
I quote Peter because I consider him to be a high quality thinker and enterprise architect. But I can’t help feeling that he is being held back by his capability view of the enterprise.
I shared this feeling. “Peter, your responses most perfectly illustrate why I am uncomfortable with a capability approach. While you are thinking “marketing capability” or “marketing function” and breaking the capability down into level two and three capabilities. I am thinking, should we consider marketing a tailored course to be the same capability as marketing a wedding or a research paper? I am thinking, do I need five “marketing functions”, one for each line of business, or one function for all of ABS? If I have one marketing function should it be organized into market assessment, market strategy and market planning teams or into tailored, open, qualifications, weddings, and research teams? These questions are all best addressed with a value chain map (rather than a capability map) as the starting point.”
I continued, “I feel that starting from a capability view of the world (one that does not have 1000 different kinds of marketing capability) is a handicap. I feel you are trying to do an operating model for a sport, starting with terms like “ball contact management”. Whereas first you need to know whether you are playing tennis or hockey or rugby, because “ball contact management” is a completely different activity in these three sports.”
I am sure the dialogue will continue – I have had previous interactions with Peter on this topic. You can follow along here – although you may need Peter to approve your membership of the group.