Having a Neutral Advocate for Change in Your Organization
How often is a company faced with new challenges where the leaders and stakeholders tasked with executing on a strategic plan choose a direction that may not be in total alignment with the goals of the organization? And how many initiatives are thwarted by internal staff whose departmental goals are different from the overall goals of an organization? This is particularly prevalent with initiatives where the marketing group has a different perspective from the sales team who has a different perspective from customer service who has a different perspective from those in fulfillment. Ultimately, the common objective of each of these departments is to help the company be successful by increasing sales and servicing customers in a way that everyone’s goals are being met. Each department’s ideas about getting there is just different. Each has merit. Each needs attention and evaluation.
Each leader in your organization has a contribution of experience and institutional knowledge that are important ingredients towards reaching your goals. And it is that experience and institutional knowledge that may confine how they craft a plan to meet the organizational objectives. And there can be strong emotions and passion behind the opinions and the positions of those leaders so that new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking do not become part of the equation to success.
In this fast-paced and competitive world, it really takes out-of the-box thinking to create innovation and change in an organization. This is where a neutral perspective from someone outside the organization can facilitate a new approach that fosters collaboration between departments to align their goals with your strategic initiatives. It is difficult to empower someone from within to take a neutral position, someone who can truly facilitate active collaborative discussions and challenge the “conventional wisdom” of the leaders who are responsible. A trusted neutral advisor can do that very effectively because there is only one agenda for them: your success.
If you choose to engage an outside advisor to facilitate change, it is important that the executive management gives their full support and that all of the stakeholders are given the opportunity to work with them. The role of the consultant is to ferret out the real interests, ideas and objectives of each of the stakeholders and bring them into alignment with the common goal. Many times a neutral party allows stakeholders to be open and creative since there are no repercussions. Each department can be served and find benefit in the plan that is presented because each has equal input with a someone who is neutral. And by doing this, a good consultant can create a cohesiveness that may not otherwise be found from within to achieve your goals.
The right advisor also brings experience, expertise and a network of other experts to the table when you need a broader perspective within your organization. Choose someone whom you trust and has experience that enriches the leadership of your company to find true value.
Anne Sigman, @annesig