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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.

Defining the amorphous - a definition of commerciality

Defining the amorphous – a definition of commerciality

If I asked you and a group of your peers to create a definition of commerciality then it’s likely that after much head scratching the responses would be more questions rather than answers.  Like ‘innovation’, or ‘creative’, ‘commerciality’ as a term is fairly amorphous and means different thing to different people and often depends on the context of the moment.

As terms, they’re all aspirational and have positive connotations.  It’s therefore not surprising that people and organisations like to proclaim proudly that they are ‘innovative’ or ‘commercial’.  In reality though, the real success stories in these areas are acknowledged as such by others rather than themselves.

However, without clarity around what it looks like and feels like to achieve success, it’s difficult to get there and be recognised for it.

In creating the ‘7 habits of a commercial advisor‘ we have used insights from both clients and advisors to create a layered framework that at the top level identifies seven areas that can lead towards success.  In order to then link the ‘7 habits‘ to actionable improvements we have identified competencies for each habit, and defined what it means to attain differing levels of maturity in each.

In short we have created a robust, consistent framework that can be applied throughout the life-cycle in order to, for example:

  • understand what you client means when they identify ‘commerciality’ in client feedback
  • provide a consistent language for conversations with clients and demonstrate that action is taken based on client feedback
  • turn client feedback into actionable feedback and measurable improvement plans
  • focus, tailor, and measure investment in L&D
  • provide a mechanism to help align your firm with your clients such that you’re seen as ‘easy to do business with’

The ‘7 habits‘ framework is simple enough to be memorable, yet deep enough to provide robustness and consistency.