小型彈性團隊的力量

The Power of Small, Flexible Teams
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商業領域的重大變革,需要具有彈性的小型團隊來協助組織創新。請學習一些實務方法來組成這樣的團隊,並授權他們產生新的構想,而且化為行動。

米可拉伊.皮斯科斯基(Mikolaj Piskorski):嗨,我是米可拉伊.皮斯科斯基,是哈佛商學院的教授。今天邀請的來賓是艾德.吉利根,美國運通的總裁。非常高興你今天來與我談談。

吉利根(Ed Gilligan):我很高興來參加。

米可拉伊.皮斯科斯基:讓我們從四年前開始談起,當時你從倫敦回到紐約。你看到這家公司剛脫離經濟衰退。在創新方面,你看到了什麼?

吉利根:現在回想起來,那是迷人的時光。我們進行大量的深刻自省。隨著2009年底和2010年的進展,我看清了幾件事。其中之一是,我們的消費者具備復原力,已經開始反彈。因此,衰退似乎並未對消費者行為產生長期影響。但我也很清楚,其他因素正在影響行為,而我當時可能沒有看出來。

在經濟衰退的那幾年裡,全世界大多數公司都採取守勢,我們當然也是,包括重組、再造、削減成本、調整為資產負債表提供資金的方式等。但同時,並不是所有公司都在防守。當美國房地產泡沫開始破滅時,也就是經濟衰退的第一個階段,臉書有十萬名會員,蘋果還沒有手機。三、四年前,顯然發生了重大變化,因為社群開始在許多不同的數位平台上占穩根基,而智慧型手機,尤其是iPhone,正徹底改變民眾的行為。改變遊戲規則的不是經濟衰退,而是可能正在被下載的十億、二十億、三十億個應用程式,以及你口袋裡的網際網路。

米可拉伊.皮斯科斯基:這對美國運通是很大的轉變,必須趕上這些環境的變化。你做了哪些具體的事情,真正改變你的組織朝這個方向前進?

吉利根:這真的是從小地方做起,改變了衡量成功指標的計分卡,並讓少數人聚集在一起,他們的眼神流露出很想做一些不同的事情,他們較不擔心自己職涯的下一份工作是什麼,而是更擔心「我們如何產生影響?我們該如何做很酷的事?我們如何成為產業中的佼佼者?」就像滾下坡的雪球一樣,剛開始很小,後來取得了動能。

我現在還記得,當時已接近2010年10月底。我正在與經營OPEN的員工檢討業務,OPEN是我們代表小型企業的品牌。至2010年底,美國大部分經濟正在反彈,但小型企業除外,仍陷在經濟衰退之中,非常謹慎,沒有創造工作機會等等。這個事業單位代表的是:「我們如何幫助小型企業做更多生意?」這是他們的任務。

他們想出這個概念,就在那年感恩節前四個星期提出,要創造「小型企業星期六」。他們編列不算多的預算。他們告訴我這個說法,說明為何會有這個概念:「讓美國消費者小規模購物,時間就在黑色星期五之後的那個星期六,網路星期一之前。」距離實施還剩下三個半星期。我突然領悟了,就像一道光照在我身上,這是我聽過最棒的主意。這是美國經濟極重要的一部分,而我們或許能對它有些影響。

我們有一個真實的價值主張。我們這個專門針對小型企業的事業,從1980年代就開始設立。所以這對我們是有相關性的。我們欠缺的是,「如何在三到四週內強力推動這個活動?」接下來幾天我朝這個方向思考,做些調查,做法顯然不會是推出新的電視廣告宣傳。這是要利用社群網站。我們以前用過臉書,但是以很傳統的方式使用。我們顯然必須採取不同做法。

因此我們成立一個很小的團隊,橫跨公司幾個不同部門。我給他們權力和資金,告訴他們在三週內會遇到很多麻煩,然後就放手讓他們去做。三個星期後,這個團隊最終讓全美大約42%的人知道「小型企業星期六」,讓數百萬名美國運通會員進行小型購物。我們利用一些商家的優惠來增加吸引力,但那是第一次以數位的方式完成所有工作。

這是整合的宣傳活動。但我學到的是成立小型團隊的力量,讓組織扁平化。我必須學習不同的方式,所以我沒有每星期與他們進行業務檢討,沒有問「給我看你們的營運計畫」、「你衡量成功的指標是什麼?」我放手讓他們發揮,給他們空中掩護,給他們的經費是像精實創業那樣的規模。因此在「小型企業星期六」之後…對了,我們去年舉辦了第三次,現在有高達75%的美國人知道這個活動,我們認為去年活動當天,創造了超過五十億美元的小型商家交易。

但後來我仍採用那個相同的小團隊概念,也就是讓組織扁平化,聚集一些知道自己在做什麼的人,挑戰他們現在來重塑我們的價值主張。結果產生了一些真正很新的創新做法,美國運通用來為卡友和商家增加價值,但也善用一些平台,如Foursquare、臉書、推特、Xbox等,並與蘋果和Passbook合作。我們做了一系列的工作,每隔幾個月就推出新產品,花費幾個星期來開發產品,而不是花幾個月,真正做到產業創新,把美國運通的獨特之處具體呈現出來。這是很棒的旅程。

米可拉伊.皮斯科斯基:這真的很棒。非常謝謝你來參加。真的很感謝。

吉利根:我很樂意這麼做,米可拉伊。謝謝你。

(劉純佑譯)


Mikolaj Piskorski: Hi I'm Mikolaj Piskorski. I'm a professor at Harvard Business School. And I'm joining today by Ed Gilligan, who is the president of American Express. Thanks for joining me.

Ed Gilligan: My pleasure, Mikolaj.

Mikolaj Piskorski: So let's just start with four years ago, when you actually came back from London to New York. And you saw a company that was just emerging from a recessionary period. What did you see when it came to innovation?

Ed Gilligan: Well, it was a fascinating time, when I look back now. We went through a lot of soul-searching. And as the end of 2009 and 2010 progressed, a couple of things became clear to me. One is that our consumers were resilient and were starting to bounce back. So the recession didn't seem to have a long-lasting impact on consumer behavior. But it also was clear to me that other things were impacting behavior that I probably hadn't seen at the time.

During those years of the recession, most companies around the world were playing defense, as certainly we were – restructuring, reengineering, reducing costs, changing how we fund the balance sheet, etc. But at the same time, not every company was playing defense. When the real estate bubble started bursting in the U.S., which was the first phase of the recession, Facebook had 100,000 members, Apple didn't have a phone yet. Three or four years ago, that was obviously changing drastically, as social was taking hold across many different digital platforms, and the smartphone, particularly the iPhone, was changing behavior radically. And it wasn't the recession, but maybe it was the 10, 20, 30 billion apps being downloaded, and the internet in your pocket, that was changing the game for us.

Mikolaj Piskorski: So this is a really big transfer for American Express, to actually catch up with these environments. So what were some of the concrete things that you did to actually change the organization to point you in that direction?

Ed Gilligan: It was really starting small, and changing the scorecard of the measures of success, and getting literally handfuls of people together who have that look in their eye that they want to do something different -- they're a little bit less worried about what their next job is in their career, and they're more worried about, “ How can we make an impact? How can we do something cool? How can we be the first in the industry?” And it was like a snowball going downhill that start small, but then it gains momentum.

And I remember now, we're cutting to the end of October of 2010. I was in a business review with our people who run OPEN, which is our brand that stands for small businesses. At the end of 2010, much of the U.S. economy was rebounding, but not small business. It was still kind of stuck in this recession, very cautious, jobs weren't being created, etc. And that business unit stands for something:” How do we help small businesses do more business?” That's their mission.

And they had come up with this concept four weeks before Thanksgiving of that year to create a day called Small Business Saturday. They had a very small modest budget. And they were telling this story to me, how they had this concept: “Let's get American consumers shopping small on that Saturday after Black Friday, before Cyber Monday.” It was three and a half weeks to go before it happened. And the lights went off. It was like a light shining on me, that this is the best idea I'd heard. It's an incredibly important part of the American economy that maybe we could impact.

And we had an authentic value proposition. We've had a business dedicated to small businesses since the 1980s here. So we had relevance. What we didn't have is, “How do we ramp this in three or four weeks?” And as I went down this road the next few days, kind of investigating, it was clear it wasn't going to be about launching a new television advertising campaign. It was going to be about leveraging social. We had used Facebook before that, but we had using it in very traditional ways. And that was clear we had to do something differently.

So we created a very small team that cut across a couple of different parts of the company. And I empowered them, gave them money, said how much trouble could they get in in three weeks, and got out of their way. And three weeks, that team ended up getting about 42 percent of Americans aware of Small Business Saturday and got millions of AmEx customers shopping small. We juiced it up with some merchants offers, but did everything digitally for the first time.

It was an integrated campaign. But what I learned is the power of getting small teams – flatten the organization. I had to learn a different way, so I wasn't going through business reviews every week with them, and “Show me your operating plan,” and “What are your measures of success?” I was getting out of their way and giving them air cover, and funding them in a lean startup kind of way. So after Small Business Saturday… And by the way, we've just run it for the third time last year, we're up to 75 percent of Americans being aware of it, and we think on that day over $5 billion of commerce occurred at small merchants this past year.

But then I took that same small-team concept – flatten the organization, get a handful of people who know what they're doing, and challenge them to now reinvent our value proposition -- and what came out of that are some really new, innovative ways of American Express adding value to card members and merchants alike, but leveraging platforms like Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Xbox; working with Apple and Passbook. We've done a series of things where every couple months, we're launching new products in weeks -- not months -- of development, and really doing industry innovation, and bringing what's unique about American Express to life. And it's been a great ride.

Mikolaj Piskorski: Well, that was great. Thank you very much for your time, Ed. I really appreciate it.

Ed Gilligan: My pleasure, Mikolaj. Thank you.



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