As a Commercial Director, I remember with sharp focus, a board strategy development workshop. When looking at the challenges that faced us, one of my colleagues, quite vocally threw on the table that we lacked ‘commercial innovation’. Being the only person in the room with the word commercial in my title all eyes looked to me. The challenge was of course, no one really understood what this mythical thing called ‘commercial innovation’ actually was!
Whilst on that occasion I was the person in the spotlight, it’s a spotlight that can and often does fall on leaders of any function or in house advisors, be that finance, legal, or procurement. And often the focus is around how well aligned are you with the business outcomes and how in tune are you with the clients’ needs.
Whilst from my experience functional teams and in house advisors, in general, are populated with skilled professionals, they often are perceived as support functions rather than key strategic enablers. To change the dial on this what is needed, and often lacking, is evidence of how they understand and deliver in alignment with the business and client desired outcomes.
In my experience a small amount of investment in this area can pay disproportionate returns. The best place to start is probably the simplest, to ask for feedback. What you will often find is this action, whether performed by your team or an independent party, will firstly provide you with a wealth of insights, and secondly often turn the most ardent adversary into a strong advocate. From experience and research, often one of the biggest complaints about in house advisors is that they ‘lack commerciality’. Using the ‘7 habits of a commercial adviser‘ is as relevant to in house advisers as it is to your external advisers and as a framework can help you to understand your internal clients views and aspirations. It can help you develop focused plans and actions which can make your time in the spotlight a more pleasant experience!