When preparing for launch, assemble a best-in-class team that can work collaboratively and think fast.
Preparing fourth-graders for their Odyssey of the Mind competition is a lot like assisting clients with their first launch.
I am the coach of my 9-year-old son's Odyssey of the Mind team, which is an international, educational, problem-solving program. Competing teams depend on their creativity to solve problems in a year-long program that in many ways reminds me of the year leading up to a launch.
The 4 main tenets of the program are:
1. Timing is everything: Teams have 5 minutes to solve their problems spontaneously, and 8 minutes for the skit they've prepared to answer a long-term problem. The incentive to get the timing right is huge because teams can win or lose based on penalties, regardless of how prepared they are.
Timing is a critical skill that is necessary in all aspects of launch planning. If schedules and timelines aren't closely adhered to, the penalties to a brand manager can be great.
Brand managers need to engage teams that understand and value timing.
2. Creativity is key: Throughout the Odyssey process, teams learn how to identify challenges and think creatively to identify solutions, and they are judged on how their answers demonstrate creativity.
As with all product launches, branding is most successful when it is supported by teams who strive to break creativity barriers with unique branding elements. Find the most creative people you can for your launch team.
3. Teamwork above all else: Students are taught to rely on their team members and to know each other's strengths and weaknesses.
As a brand manager, identify the best team players to support your launch. That includes your partner agencies, which should be selected not only for the expertise they can bring to the project, but also for how well they can work together and with you.
4. Think on your feet: While the clock is ticking, the Odyssey teams work to show off their solutions. But as mistakes happen, time marches on. The students have to think on their feet to deal with any situation that may arise.
The ability to think fast and to solve problems is highly valued, both in competition and in life. A good brand manager should seek out team members who can perform under pressure and exhibit grace under fire.
Companies have special needs to consider when approaching a launch. To ensure success, assemble a team that sticks to the timelines, is exceptionally creative, works well together and with you, and can think quickly on its feet.