“There cannot be alignment deeper in the organization, even when employees want to cooperate, if the leaders at the top aren’t in lockstep with one another.”
Patrick M Lencioni, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
In college, a fraternity brother recommended I take a ROTC class—he promised me an “A” and I’d also get to fire a rifle. (And after struggling with Cost Accounting, I really needed the grade!) One thing I remember is, during WWII, each soldier was supported by 8 non-combat soldiers. For every soldier with a rifle, there were 8 with clipboards. Just look at M*A*S*H—in this support unit, there were half a dozen doctors plus many others necessary for its effective operation.
In August 1944, Patton’s Third Army were measuring their daily achievements in quick miles. However, by September, his tanks were lucky to be counting advancements in yards. The key was logistics. At the end of August, Patton summed it up this way, “At the present time our chief difficulty is not the Germans, but gasoline. If they would give me enough gas, I could go all the way to Berlin!”
According to The Other End of the Spear: The Tooth- to-Tail Ratio (T3R) in Modern Military Operations, by John J. McGrath, by the time the USA entered Afghanistan, the ratio of soldiers was down to 1:4. That is, for each soldier in combat, there were 4 non-combat staff in logistics and headquarters.
This ratio makes sense to me in another context: how many staff positions are required to support a sales person in the field?
A VP of Sales opened a new sales office in Montreal. The VP wanted to expand his sales footprint by entering new markets. But here’s the thing: Doesn’t a new market require more than a sales guy? We’re going to need new product capabilities to comply with Canadian law. We’re going to need marketing programs targeting the new market. We’re likely to need sales training and sales support. So hiring one guy in Canada creates additional workload for development, marketing, product management, finance, support, and others.
New market decisions cannot be made in isolation because they affect staffing beyond the sales team.New market decisions cannot be made in isolation because they affect staffing beyond the sales team. [Tweet this]
In The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, the author explains it simply enough: we all need to work for the same company. Yet I so often see rogue behavior: developers adding features that nobody wants, product managers working on secret projects without executive approval, and, as in this case, sales strategies that are disconnected from company strategy and staffing.
Holistically, the leadership should review and sync each department’s growth plans to identify areas of stress. The plans of one department are usually impacted by the plans of another department. Increasing revenue goals may mean new markets; new markets mean additional staff in marketing, product management, development, and support. We can’t just randomly hire a sales guy in a new region and expect the rest of the company to increase output without additional headcount. The decisions in one department, particularly sales, impact all those who support the sales people and the new customers.
In my view, new markets should be vetted by a product manager with market expertise. What is the revenue opportunity? What company resources will be necessary to support the market? What changes are necessary to the product and its promotion.
Are you defining markets proactively? Or struggling to catch up?