A few years back I worked with a $100 million company in the commercial construction industry that was falling short each year on hitting its revenue growth goals. They had an alignment issue. Sales wasn’t aligned to marketing, and neither of those were really aligned to operations and customer service. The first thing I asked for was an org chart, but got a blank stare instead. They didn’t really have one. I suppose they could be called a company, since they did keep each other “company” each day. But I found it hard to call them an organization when it was that word they seemed to lack.
When I asked the leadership team what they thought the issue was, the answer was that they have a great product, no real competition, and that the sales team just wasn’t selling enough. When I asked the sales leaders, their answer was that there was a lot of competition, the customers don’t like certain parts of the product/service, and that they walk away from sales because operations can’t deliver the product on time, or at all on specific projects.
When I asked the OPS team they said the sales team doesn’t give them enough lead time, and they don’t understand how they prioritize manufacturing. The marketing team didn’t really know what the sales team’s goals were, and the sales team had no idea what marketing’s messages, campaigns or branding was focused on.
Is Your Company Organized?
Sounds like a real disaster, but it is actually an easy fix. I found they had the common military issue of silos. Each silo had their own org chart, goals, metrics and procedures, but didn’t communicate those with each other. Very similar to the military issue of the Army’s coordination with the Navy, Air force and Marines in combat operations. If each pursues its own goals without coordination the greater mission is doomed to fail. The military addresses this issue by having each member of the armed forces, regardless of rank, be cross-trained in other jobs. As a scout section leader, I was responsible for knowing my own job, two jobs below me, one job above me, and be familiar with the jobs of my counterparts in the branches I often worked with on combat missions (artillery, signal and close air support).
Cross-training in business can be accomplished by a simple weekly or monthly leadership call/meeting where each department head discusses their goals successes, challenges and help needed. What naturally develops is an understanding of what each other’s teams are doing, the willingness to help one-other succeed, and the true congealing into an organization working towards a common goal. It’s amazing how a little communication and coordination can effect the outcome.