How good is your 'line of sight'?

How good is your ‘line of sight’?

From experience, many in-house legal, finance, contracting teams often feel, and often are, peripheral players in their organisation. Common complaints include, “we’re not involved early enough”, and “we’re always fighting a rearguard action to protect the company”.

Yet increasingly c-suites view functional teams as key enablers to value creation and innovation. Yet being a peripheral player can often undermine achieving this.

Moving in from the periphery can take considerable time but there are things that you can do to improve the situation.

Central to most businesses is their strategy, but often when you’re on the periphery, there can be many individual links to get back to that strategy.

Just think, how long is it before your whole team is briefed on the strategy (if at all)?  How many layers does it go through to get to your team? And what is the impact of the ‘lag’ and ‘distortion’ that this all potentially creates?

When it comes to enacting the strategy, are you able to articulate why you’re going down the particular route? If you can’t then how can you brief, and get value for money from the external advisers without being able to?

Creating a strong 2-way ‘line of sight’ from your organisation’s strategy to individual actions is fundamental, yet many functional professionals feel uncomfortable in this area, and would struggle to give a three minute or 30 minute presentation on the organisation’s strategy?

Without this ability, it’s unlikely that you will be able to deliver optimal advice and solutions that support the organisations strategy. Equally it makes it even more difficult for your external advisers to provide advice that is meaningful in the context of what you’re trying to achieve and which meets your desire for value for money.

Creating your, or your teams, ‘line of sight’ is a key activity that can have a disproportionate impact both for you and your team but also in demonstrating to the wider organisation your commerciality.

In House Advisors - how commercial are you?

In House Advisors – how commercial are you?

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!