Do you remember the popular book, Dress for Success? It sold millions of copies based on a simple concept: If you want to get ahead you need to look the part. And that starts with what you wear. Wardrobes were updated everywhere.
Dress for Success was itself a resounding success because it nailed the fundamentals. Its basic premise made sense — appearances matter. And, it was easy to execute.
So, the individual had a playbook, albeit one book in the broader scheme of things, on how to increase their odds of success. Cool.
What about the organization? Is there an equivalent playbook for driving success for the organization as a whole? Is there something fundamental that can be executed across the organization that would also accelerate momentum, value and sustainable success? I would argue, yes, but it’s not what graces most reading lists.
Certainly, there is good thinking about the effectiveness of culture, the importance of community, and the benefits of branding. There are also new ideas about more efficient organizational structures and models. All are worth investigating and deploying.
But, none of this work gets to the root cause of why organizations are not as successful as they can be. Organizations are not achieving their full potential because organizations do not align for success. For all the talk of one corporate culture, one community, and one brand, we continue to see departments operating within their own agendas, goals and motivations.
While some success is being achieved as a result of innovative products, smart selling, and brilliant marketing, an organization will not be as successful as it can be without integrating all three of those fundamental behaviors.
So, how can organizations align for success?
Integrate the three most important operating departments — product, sales/service and marketing — around a powerful and compelling positioning platform.
What’s a compelling positioning platform? It’s a point of view that is relevant, provocative and bold. For example, PTC, the product development software company, developed Product First when their new enterprise space, Product Lifecycle Management, was forming. It said companies should focus on what matters most – the product – and that everything should revolve around the product.
What does integrating product, sale/service, and marketing look like? It looks like the company’s go-to-market strategy is unified. That everything done by each department is a proof point to the integrated go-to-market campaign.
Construct a roadmap that shows your customers the way to create and capture value in your market space.
What’s a value roadmap? It’s a document that articulates the finite number of pathways to create value. From the handful of value opportunities that either drive top or bottom line value to the executing strategies in support of each value opportunity to the hundreds of business initiatives in support of each strategy. Each pathway then points to what competencies are needed by the company in terms of people skills, process, and technology infrastructure in order to capitalize on the opportunity for value.
Align the company behind the value roadmap. Everyone should be trained on its content. A value roadmap is thought leadership at its best, especially for an industry space that is forming or shifting. Customers at all levels will value the thinking.
As above, a value roadmap provides the opportunity to begin a conversation at the value opportunity, at the strategy level or at the point of a business initiative. It can track technology and consulting investments back to value pathways or, conversely, value down to technology investments.
Equally, align the company behind the competencies needed to realize those value-creation paths either through its own IP, products and services or with the addition of partnerships that complete the portfolio.
For the roadmap to have real value it needs to be generic and complete. That means the competencies and capabilities need to be unfiltered. But, the company bringing forth the value map should take the framework of the competencies and use it to fill gaps in its own capabilities and offerings either through R&D, biz dev, or M&A.
Manage your people, process and technology to support what you’re telling your customers they need to be competent at. The competency part of value roadmap can serve as the blueprint for what your company needs to be good at and a framework for decision making
Publish and promote the heck out of the value roadmap. When you own the customer path to value you become the de facto industry leader.
The company should get behind the roadmap and share it wherever and whenever appropriate. For example, it should show up in speeches, invitations, seminars, booklets, white papers, corporate presentations, and the like.
Sure, this kind of work is a lot more difficult that simply replacing your wardrobe, but I’d argue many companies don’t do much more than that anyway. What exactly is a new marketing campaign, product demo or a sales person, but a new suit anyway?
– Thomas Butta is Founder and CEO of 21 Weeks, where he drives sustainable transformation for organizations in rapidly changing markets. He is an experienced and sought after thought leader; having worked with top tier companies such as Red Hat, Parametric Technology Corp, NICE Systems, and FGI. He is the author of the popular blog, Speed Matters, and writes for the Huffington Post, Best Thinking, Business2Community and Examiner.com. He speaks on matters of capitalizing on critical moments and accelerating value.