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.

 

About the Author

Marisa Kopec is Vice President and Group Director, Go-to-Market, at SiriusDecisions. She leads SiriusDecisions’ Portfolio Marketing, Strategic Communications, and Product Management services. Follow Marisa on Twitter @Marisa_Kopec


1 Comments

  • Larry McKeogh, 8th February 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Reply

    Hear, hear! Someone is listening.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of “suffering of b-to-b professionals due to the lack of alignment in b-to-b organizations.” It is simpler than moving organizational boxes around though. Communication is a big component. I genuinely believe that everyone wants to do the right thing. The problem is that each part of the org is viewing it from their role/function. The lack of alignment slows the organizational progress down. Product management and marketing, often being at the center of the org and having to work through alliances and people is ideally situated to bridge those gaps.

    Here’s the hard part, it takes work. The PM/M needs to get out of their cubicle, have a hallway conversation, talk on the phone, create a regular blog post. It doesn’t happen over night. Even if you had the magical authority to move the boxes around you’d still end up with the same (but different) problems. You’ll need to commit at least a year before you’ll detect the subtle changes.

    Putting out the information, being perceived as the go to person, you’ll establish yourself as a leader. Leaders don’t need titles they need a little room to effect change. Like a snowball, it will build and you’ll be amazed at the positive effect it can have.

    PS. Even better to set others up for success. Not having an ego in this will speed the process up.


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