On October 11th, we introduced the idea that Winning in a Down Economy does not start with blindly cutting costs. Instead we outlined a strategy for 'tuning in' that market leaders have adopted. In the ten weeks that follow, we're covering the ten steps to getting your organization aligned quickly to a new market reality. This post is the ninth of ten. Steps 7-9 address the action plans you can take to create a quick win and better alignment to your market.
Step 9: Rally Your Stakeholders
"Every time I try to initiate change in my company, the organizational antibodies come storming in to attack me." -- Senior Executive at a Large Media Company
We all forget about the change curve. The biggest challenge you will have implementing your new 'Winning in a Down Economy' roadmap won't come from actually figuring it out, it will come from managing change. We'd like to think it's easy ... it's just a simple matter of communication isn't it? I mean, we had a meeting the other week where we laid it all out for everyone and told them to take it to the market. It's been two weeks so it should be all behind us now shouldn't it? Everyone seemed to 'get it'. Didn't they?
Ah, no they didn't!
This is no knock on your communication skills but it is a fact. Most plans fail not because they weren't good plans but because they were poorly executed. And most execution steps fail not because there wasn't good effort put into it, but because there was a lack of clarity in the strategy. And that lack of clarity didn't come because you failed to communicate ... it's because you didn't do it often enough.
Rallying your stakeholders is an enormously important issue to you in these times. Your employees, customers, partners, community and shareholders that all share a 'stake' in your business, report back that the #1 problem they have with you right now is a lack of focus. And the #1 symptom they cite ... lack of communication and specifics about your expectations of them.
There is no more important job for a leader in these times than to address this issue. Leadership is all about having followers. But, to get them you have to communicate. Recognizing the issue is the first step to success. Then turn your attention to the strategy:
- Go Broad first with a 30,000 foot view -- make sure ALL of your stakeholders are included in the communication that covers the 5 to 7 key tenants of your strategy.
- Provide good context for alignment -- provide each audience with a major reason for buying into your platform and be specific about what it is. An example for a partner might be 'we are narrowing the scope of our deliverables through 3rd parties but aligning to top priority programs where you'll have access to our best resources'.
- Go narrow and deep to specific audiences -- breaking down your high-level strategy into specific and detailed action plans along with the always critical 'what's in it for them'. Don't delegate the details. They need to hear it from you.
- Repeat it.
- Repeat it again.
- Measure it and repeat it again.
If this sounds like a campaign, it is. Treat it the same as the Presidential campaign we just witnessed. We know from that campaign definitively that effective communication wins. Some of you may hate the implications of being PR oriented but here's a news flash for all of us -- leadership is personal! Far too many of your stakeholders might 'hear' the message but they respond to it much differently when they hear it personally from you. When they do, there is a different level of importance and energy attached that quite simply makes your plan actionable.
Rallying your stakeholders is your third accelerator in this down market and the fastest to payback. Those closest to you already have a vested interest in helping you win. They just need to be mobilized. Once they are, your plan will go viral.