Whilst working with a leading regional technology company, I was supporting the Sales and Services teams to help establish greater clarity about their roles and responsibilities in order to reduce overlap and infighting and increase alignment and collaboration between these teams in the marketplace.
After a few sessions, we got it right and it was time to update the company’s senior leadership team, as well as the entire middle manager forum on the newly established role definition and rules of engagement that the team created. However, some of the Sales and Services senior leaders expressed reluctance to share the details with that wide of an audience.
They were concerned that if too many people get exposed and involved in the dynamic between Sales and Services, everyone will meddle and want to influence things and this will complicate and slow things down. As one of the leaders put it
“As long as the Sales and Services leaders understand the rules that is all that matters. It isn’t anyone else’s business.”
I have witnessed this type of mindset quite a few times before. Many executives often believe that when it comes to critical business discussions and decisions (including strategic planning), these important debates should be conducted as an exclusive affair.
Their logic is that the fewer people who are involved in the process, the easier, smoother and faster it will be. As such, they often limit participation to a small group of business unit heads and/or the strategy development group.
However, making key decisions and/or putting together the strategic planning team is not a matter of finding the perfect size of group — it’s about gathering together the right people.
Remember, any decision, direction or strategy is only as good as the context inside which it’s being received, owned and executed. Therefore, in order to make the best decisions and create the most powerful strategy with the strongest sense of ownership and accountability for execution, you must include both those individuals who have the best expertise about where the organization needs to go and the people who are going to be involved in, support and implement the agreed upon direction and objectives.
While some impatient executives might see this broader inclusion, for example of support functions such as Human Resources and Marketing as slowing things down, slower, in this case, will inevitably be faster where it counts most. This is the case since doing things right from the start saves time, money, and prevents having to do things all over again when people are only paying lip-service to the execution further down the road.