Nothing Like a “White Collar Prison Session” to Ensure Your Organization is Aligned

It’s the most wonderful time of their year! Well, perhaps remove wonderful and insert one of the following words if you are an expansion-stage senior manager or executive: hectic, crazy, chaotic, stressful.  No doubt, leadership within your organization is in the midst of reconvening to reflect on last quarter and talk about the plans for the new year. And most likely, a lot of that talk is around numbers: growth percentages, budgets, hiring numbers, so on and so forth. I met with a sales effectiveness consulting firm yesterday, Force Management, and they called this time of meetings “white collar prison.” But while those discussions around numbers are of course very important and necessary, the start of the new year is also the perfect opportunity to get your senior executives together in one room to talk about a few other things that are critical to your businesses growth: your target customer segments, your buyers, and your messaging.

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Get Incredibly Focused and Aligned

Sounds silly, right? “Devon, are you (@)#*($ kidding me? We are a $50 million dollar company… of COURSE we know our (#)%*( messaging!” After now having worked with dozens of expansion-stage companies during my years at OpenView I can assure you — this is not a silly concept at all. Even successful companies can become siloed and lose sight of how the company is presenting itself to the market (or what the best market is to be targeting to begin with!).

4 Questions You Should Answer to Improve Your Organizational Alignment

So here is my recommendation: When you sit down for your 2014 executive goal planing meetings lock yourselves in a room until everyone can come to an agreement on these four questions:

  • What are the key customer segments that we want to dominate in 2014?
  • Who are the buyers within that segment?
  • What is our value proposition?
  • What is the competitive differentiator?

Have each executive write their answers down to each of these questions on a piece of paper to kick off the meeting. You may be surprised by how much the answers can vary.

Allow the conversations and debates to flow — and don’t leave the room until everyone is in agreement.

Document the conclusions and make sure that they are shared and well-articulated to the rest of the organization, especially at your sales kickoff! Here’s to a great (and very aligned) 2014!

You might also like ...
Predictable Pitfalls of Founders and How to Avoid Them
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in People + Strategy magazine here. We have romanticized founders having their “eureka” moments, writing their...
by Alisa Cohn
Startup Strategy
The Simple Secret to Getting Ahead in Tech
A couple of weeks ago, I read a fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal about Leyla Seka’s rise through...
by George Roberts
Startup Strategy
Using Empathy to Improve the Customer Journey
Empathy is key to improving the customer journey, but to develop it we need to get as close as we...
by OpenView