When a business is aligned, culture thrives, revenue and value creation is balanced, and it promotes exponential growth. But only if marketing leads the way. Otherwise, if everyone thinks they own the strategy, no one will own it.
Understanding who owns strategy & how to delegate
Kelly poses a question to the audience: Who owns strategy? The responses were varied — The CEO, each department, aligned from the top, or everyone.
Kelly suggests the answer is no one — not because it’s the right answer but because of what commonly happens due a misunderstanding of who should own the strategy.
A single person handling strategy
”Regardless of who does or doesn’t own it, you can’t execute strategy alone,” Kelly explains.
If a single person owns the strategy, you have a single point of failure. And while there are success stories of business leaders leading company change, there’s too much risk involved. What if the person leaves or is put in a situation where they can no longer function in their position?
”A person isn’t the same as a strategy and it doesn’t matter how smart they are. You need to operationalize whatever that genius is that they’re bringing to the company.” — Kelly Owen Grover
In order to operationalize a strategy, the leadership team needs to delegate; but, it’s not as easy as it seems. If the individual departments are acting independently of each other, trying to delegate can be close to impossible.
And, to make matters more complicated, the gaps that prevent strategy from becoming actionable will differ from organization to organization — eliminating a one-size-fits-all approach.
”I’ve routinely seen a vacuum or a gap in taking strategic ideas: Great, or more in their infancy, and turning it into something that is actionable. And that is where I see marketing really having a big role to play.” — Kelly Owen Grover
How marketing can drive corporate strategy
Let’s say you have a great strategy, but are having a hard time trying to make it actionable. Despite your strategy sessions or offsites, the enthusiasm to make that effort a reality falls to the wayside somewhere along its journey.
The cost of silos
Along with strategy getting lost if the executive team cannot successfully delegate, there is a high cost of siloed departments.
Kelly describes it as a run trap: Where you get a departmental budget, but because of the misalignment, that budget is not shared with other departments that may need it more to achieve the overall mission of the company.
Imagine a company with two departments: one achieves its goal with excess budget while the other would highly benefit from extra budget. Because the two departments focus on revenue, value creation suffers.
”Value creation is the stuff that really leads to exponential growth. And ultimately empowers you to take those big swings.” — Kelly Owen Grover
If you take an organizational approach to revenue, it allows the opportunity to break out and really move the needle.
Kelly describes marketing as the perfect department to lead corporate strategy simply because of the type of department that they are. Marketing is studied as a structure, it’s dynamic, and it’s evolving in ways not as common in sales or product.
Marketing’s whole world is looking for opportunities within the market and aligning their company around addressing those opportunities. With a description that sounds more like a way to run a successful business, Kelly suggests it’s not a far leap to think marketing is best suited to drive corporate strategy.
So how exactly will marketing communicate with other departments to move the corporate strategy forward? Kelly emphasizes how it’s a mistake to think of it like a baton handoff in a relay race. It needs to be a feedback loop, instead — one where marketing is talking with all departments.
A key takeaway
If everyone owns the strategy, then no one owns the strategy. Without marketing taking the lead and aligning corporate strategy with other departments, a company runs the risk of siloing departments and wasting budget when it could’ve helped move the needle for the company.
Because marketing is already looking for market opportunities, they stand out as the best department to take on this responsibility and to create a feedback loop.
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