Can’t We All Just Get Along?
As an analyst on the product marketing and management (PMM) team at SiriusDecisions, I listen every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, to the suffering of b-to-b professionals due to the lack of alignment in b-to-b organizations. It’s saddening to witness bright, successful, driven people – who all just want to see their company grow and be prosperous – downtrodden by imbalances in workflow processes or conflicts resulting from accountability tension between product, marketing and sales.
Let me share some best practices observed where business leaders have achieved coordinated, aligned processes between product marketing, product management, research and development, engineering, manufacturing, product development and sales.
Usually, the first instinct is to go to the org chart and start moving boxes to fix things. However, while proper organizational structure is pretty basic to alignment, for many reasons (e.g. politics, culture, timing) touching the org chart might not be an option, or it might cause more confusion than clarity – exacerbating the alignment problem even further. But I’m here with hope to say that org chart reconstruction is not the only way to get to alignment. Alliances can be formed via matrixed processes and virtual teams that overcome the gaps created by organizational silos. Leaders must form networked processes and cross-functional teams that enable operational effectiveness and prevent communication breakdowns as offerings are brought to market.
So, before running to your computer to start moving the boxes around in the org chart, I recommend a better first step when addressing an alignment issue: Use a fact-based approach like our industry-standard PMM Model to audit existing workflow processes, identify where resource gaps and redundancies are really problematic, and isolate necessary process improvements in order to engineer better alignment. While organization design might be one output of that analysis, we observe that companies are also using training, skills development, more crisply defined role definitions, standard templates, formal interlock, and consistent workflow processes as ways to bridge alignment gaps.