Can Systems Thinking Help You Think Like a CMO and Drive Marketing Innovation?

Can Systems Thinking Help You Think Like a CMO and Drive Marketing Innovation? 1024 332 C-Suite Network
systems thinking

Every marketer has felt the pressure to drive marketing innovation. But what does that really mean for the average marketer, whose role includes a diverse range of different factors? Consider a day in the life of a marketer. You’re managing social campaigns on four different networks. You’re editing blog posts, writing blog posts, and trying to solicit contributions from freelancers and internal contributors. There are update calls with your agencies that handle content, creative, and SEO. Your CEO is starting to make noises about redesigning the website again, and that doesn’t even begin to address the actual projects you need to finish this week, including the full setup for a major customer event and all the details for a new product launch.

Just writing that kicked my blood pressure up a few notches, and living it day by day is an entirely different experience. With heavy workloads and ever-changing platforms and priorities, it’s hard for marketers to move from a tactical focus to a strategic one. You often know you need to write and post five tweets a day. But when is the last time you stepped back, asked why, looked at your ROI, and determined how any one activity contributed to your success? If you’re ready to get real results, stay on top of your most important priorities, and ultimately move up in your career, you have to start thinking like a CMO. And that is best accomplished by understanding and mastering systems thinking.

What Is Systems Thinking? Or How I Finally Mastered SEO

Thinking like a CMO involves the ability to see the bigger picture and how smaller factors contribute to end results. However, it also requires the ability to understand how individual factors relate and can lead to meaningful shifts overall. The world is governed by systems: systems we create and systems that we learn how to work within. The same is true about marketing. Systems-based thinking has been described in many ways, but for me, it’s a way to systematically manage complexity and chaos with the aim of deploying the resources you have to accomplish your most important goals.

One official definition of systems thinking is “a management discipline that concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the components that comprise the entirety of that defined system.” In other words, it gives you a framework to assess the importance of individual parts of the puzzle, as well as their cumulative impact and how different parts of your marketing strategy affect broader outcomes. That’s what a CMO does differently than a marketer who’s running from tactic to tactic trying to achieve results. They set the vision, assess different options for getting there, and then craft a road map…