Leadership is learning...Listen in as Stanley McChrystal delivers a TED talk on leadership in changing environments. And then, before you discount McChrystal's insight as just another tired or abstruse military analogy, consider this.
The huge systemic changes that manufacturing companies have made in the operations over the last two decades were traumatic - but were internal and managed scientifically.
In contrast, the changes that most B2B industrial companies must make to their business growth strategies to thrive going forward will be culturally wrenching and public (customer dictated.)
Certainly change management is an important component of both initiatives, but it's a rare company where the manufacturing, engineering and QC folks occupy as prominent a position as the marketing and sales - and that means that the change which competitors forced on manufacturing will feel minor compared to the turmoil of what's going to happen to business growth strategies and execution models.
Certainty of uncertainty
The reality is that the revenue growth models of most industrial manufacturers (small marketing effort with larger direct & channel sales team) was designed around a buyer/seller dynamic that no longer exists.
So companies must change to thrive; probably even to survive. And while sales & marketing consultants can help to sketch the desired state, sort of like a tandem jump when you take your leap, there will be no "final" form Instead companies face a cycle of continuous improvement and evolution based on changes in technology, market conditions and buyer behaviors. That creates certain uncertainty...an acutely uncomfortable condition for many companies, particularly staid, traditional manufacturers.
That creates a management challenge.
The role of senior management
This requires a shift in management focus and style. Just as McChrystal described the challenge he faced in fostering mutual trust, and the importance of learning new technologies from subordinates, today's B2B leader faces the same existential crisis in revenue growth management.
It's no longer adequate or advisable to pop into weekly staff meetings, quarterly planning sessions or annual strategy review and ask sales & marketing for an update. The tactics required to support future business growth strategies straddle traditional skills, competencies, responsibilities and resource allocation. Leaving it to sales and marketing is setting them, and your company, up to fail. It's an abdication of your management responsibility.
The solution? Become directly involved. You needn't understand every radio button and analytical tool - but you must be involved enough in the evolution of your company's business growth strategies to ensure that they are adequate to meet evolving marketing challenges.
Want to learn more about how today's B2B companies can thrive? Download our free eBook "Manufacturing Revenue Growth."
BTW - if you're intrigued by McChrystal's account of the jump, here are a couple videos you may enjoy.
A 'start to finsih' view of the whole jump cycle (including some of the inglorious landing's he described)
"Greenramp" - prepping for a jump
Riding along with someone's 'gopro' camera
image - FastCompany