Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

Avoiding Corporate Survival Strategies Will Keep the Ball Rolling in Your Direction Subtitle: GET REMEDIAL!

Avoiding Corporate Survival Strategies Will Keep the Ball Rolling in Your Direction Subtitle: GET REMEDIAL! 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

Has this happened to you before? After a few meetings with a big company, there’s suddenly someone new in the room, and they completely take over—erasing all progress and putting everyone back at square one. They say, “I’m not convinced we should do this!” and then try to shoot down the proposal for the rest of the meeting. What does this mean? They weren’t prepared for the meeting and are attempting to use a “smokescreen” tactic.

Or, after a year of back-and-forth with everyone you’ve been working with, you reach a new group that will actually use your solution! But guess what? They’re unprepared. They don’t know why they’re having the meeting, and they don’t even know who you are. For them, it’s time to start all over. Their bosses haven’t briefed them on the reason, the history, or even the authorization to move forward. Or even worse—they were briefed, but they didn’t read the correspondence! Why wouldn’t they read it? Because they’re so overwhelmed, and these things can fall through the cracks. Usually, communication is minimal and last minute.

Different Strokes

Entrepreneurs need to be “hustlative”. They need to be thoroughly briefed. They need a consistent and comprehensive view at all times. Their paycheck depends on it—their future isn’t guaranteed. They have to see the big picture in order to succeed. They must know the whens and the whys.

One of the benefits of working for a big organization is financial security. These employees work under less pressure and don’t expect “urgency” to ever come up in conversation. They get paid no matter what happens to your project—unless they lose their job! So is it any surprise that Job Security is Priority #1? Any threat must be challenged. Any assumption that they aren’t performing must be crushed. All the politics—it’s the nature of the beast. Interestingly, there exists a support group for this method of thinking that begins with the division of labor and specialty associations and ends with competitive inter-organizational salaries. Employees at big companies usually only specialize in one job area and might look at everything else through that one narrow lens. Their biggest concern is, “Will this make my job easier?” instead of “How will this improve the bottom line of the company?” Specialty work can insulate and isolate employees away from the sales process.

Think about the fact that these employees could just be doing their time at this big company only to get resumé experience to help move their career along. Or they could be moved to another position within the same big company. But where does that leave you, the entrepreneur that depends on the big company’s blessing? Yep—start from scratch, even if you’ve been doing this for a year already. There likely won’t be any continuity or urgency on their part.

Navigating Blockages

This same corporate blockage can wear many masks, but the bottom line is always this—as an entrepreneurial outsider trying to accomplish something at a large company, you must be proactive when it comes to briefing, even if you feel like it’s redundant. This must happen before every single meeting.

While we were building a major brand, we worked with so many large, sluggish companies. Some were large corporations, and others were governmental. More than once, we had to do the other guy’s job while being careful not to frustrate them. Then we had to thank them before recommending them to their bosses. Crazy, right? But it’s all about getting the job done.

Use these tips to help you get through corporate blockage:

  1. After you’ve gotten the authority to move toward a solution and are handed to the first executive, confirm (in writing) that you have clear permission to do so. Explain, again, how this solution will affect the bottom line, and provide a decision-making deadline that will help the company maximize its benefits. This will be important down the line when all the executives start playing ‘musical chairs’.
  2. After you’ve been passed off to the manager or division chief, brief them in writing again before any physical meetings. Make sure to CC the higher-ups—be clear that this isn’t coming from out of the blue. Keep all correspondence on the same email thread or use Google Docs.
  3. Once you finally meet with the division chief, say thank you, sum up the action items, and send another email in that same thread with the following steps and deadline details.
  4. Before meeting with the next group, find out who will be in the meeting, and, you guessed it—send them the email thread with your agenda, explanations, and possible outcomes. Do this twice: Once in advance, and again right before the meeting. And present your agenda during the meeting itself. Try to stay in control and make sure everyone’s on the same page and understands the milestones. Don’t forget to introduce yourself and to say your ‘thank you’s! Don’t spend too much time explaining why you’re having the meeting or bringing someone up to speed.
  5. Once the meeting is over, summarize everything via email, including deadlines and yet another round of thank yous. Everyone will see that their bosses are CC’d and that you’re promoting their jobs. At the end of the day—that’s how you make progress.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5.
  7. Repeat ad nauseam!

Final thoughts

This might all remind you of Scott Adams’s “Dilbert” comic strip. You can throw your hands up and have a good laugh, or you can be productive and successfully navigate corporate blockage. Don’t forget—you’re the outsider here. Everyone else can easily pause or cancel your project. The more you know about what motivates them and the more you show your support, the better. You’re at their mercy! Show them how your ideas will make their jobs easier, even if it will save their company millions in the process! With each new person you meet, start from scratch. You can’t assume that everyone has already been briefed. Write everything down, keep it all on the same email thread, and pray! Corporate blockage (which we sometimes call ‘corporate constipation’ because everything’s stuck) will break down eventually, and with due diligence, persistence, and briefing, things will move smoothly again!

For more, read on: http://c-suitenetworkadvisors.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/

 

 

 

 

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