A Special Message to Leaders of Organizations Providing Internal Services within a Larger Organization
If you are leading an organization that provides internal services within a larger organization (e.g., a company’s internal organizations such as IT, Accounting, Tax, HR, Legal, Facilities, etc.), whether you realize it or not, you are in a competitive situation. And once you start thinking that your organization is entitled to the business it gets, you have started the process of decline and decay.
“We are under-valued.”
“If the business would only involve us earlier in the process, we could be more effective.”
“We are left out of the game.”
“They don’t see us as a strategic capability to be leveraged, they see us as an operational necessity to be tolerated.”
If you hear yourself thinking thoughts such as these, you should be worried. But you’re probably worried about the wrong things.
There are only four functions that any company really needs: invent and design the stuff (Product Development); make the stuff (Operations/Manufacturing); sell the stuff (Sales); and count the money (Finance). These “bedpost” functions will always have a permanent seat at the thought leader table; everyone else is discretionary and has to earn their seat.
It has been our experience that how company leadership treats a discretionary function is directly related to how they view that function’s contributions — not based on how strategically important they should be, but based on how strategically important they have demonstrated themselves to be. If the company intelligentsia thinks you are a “player,” then you are in; if they don’t think you are a “player,” then you are out. Player or water boy, whatever station you hold in company life, you hold it because you earned it.
Further, when a business loses relevance in the eyes of its customer, that customer goes elsewhere. Similarly, when an internal service provider loses relevance in the eyes of its customers, they simply go elsewhere, too — they outsource.
Too many internal organizations are their company’s vendor of force. The truth is that your function competes for your customers’ business with every other provider out there. You need to run your function like it is your own business. You need to compete for your customers’ business. You need to create your own competitive advantage.
Are you a vendor of force or vendor of choice for your organization? Don’t know the difference or how to make the transition?
We’re agilityIRL. We’ve been where you are. We can help.
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