The findings from the second of our four mini-surveys dedicated to my upcoming book, The Integration ImperativeTM, are now available here.
These findings highlight a critical concern for PSFs that are working to evolve their Marketing and Business Development functions: the need to better balance cultural initiatives with formal structural changes. It appears -- at least for these respondents -- this isn't what's happening.
Here's my take on the answers to the survey's 3 questions:
Q1: Is your PSF deliberately working to make its current staff-side (i.e., non-revenue generating) Marketers' and Business Developers' job positions more strategic, deeper, broader?
The idea behind this survey was simple: to determine if PSFs were "stuck" in evolving the scope of their Marketing and Business Development functions. Now, beyond anecdote, we can confirm most firms report they are indeed taking definitive steps to improve the effectiveness of these critical functions.
A clear majority of respondents - 65 percent – provided details on their firms’ very conscious efforts to increase the strategic imprint of Marketing and Business Development functions. After you download the survey report here, even a quick glance at the comments will reveal the importance of these initiatives -- "fundamentally change," "actively engaging marketing to right the ship," "upgrading the skills," "engaged with senior leadership," and "strong change going on." These remarks reflect positive intentions, forward-thinking cultures, and the kind of critical flexibility that successful professional service firms employ to capture and maintain market share.
This subset of survey participants described, in very positive terms, how their PSFs are managing these important changes. Respondents remarked on new developments of their roles, redefining the scope of the marketing function, and making new or different allocations of staff in order to achieve new strategic goals. This investment mentality bodes well for the eventual success of these organizational changes.
That's the good news. For the other 35 percent, however, comments ranged from cautious optimism to outright bitterness and resentment. For respondents in these firms, there is a distinct tone of frustration and marginalization. One wonders how likely it will be for these firms to make bold marketplace gains.
Q2: How is this evolution being done? (If Strongly Agree or Agree to Question 1)
For this question, we encouraged our respondents to tell us about as many of their initiatives as they have underway at their firms. Clearly, many of them are deploying multiple programs. (Download full report here)
The answers to this question reveal two very important issues, and they offer an early glimpse of the challenges -- and opportunities -- facing PSF leaders in their hopes to affect changes in their Marketing and Business Development functions.
First, the positive news. These PSF respondents report they are implementing a variety of internal change and restructuring programs, in a very deliberate manner. Their answers and comments provide clear evidence of astute organizational thinking, careful planning and the management of changes that will benefit an entire enterprise, not just a few people.
The two programs with the highest votes (43 percent for "changing Marketing & Business Development job descriptions” and 35 percent for "creating a pathway to a ‘seat at the table’" for marketers and business developers”) illustrate functional approaches to increasing Marketing and Business Development’s effectiveness. Training marketers and business developers to increase their skills was cited by 32 percent. It's clear that these PSFs are beginning to understand the interdependence between internal restructuring and training to reeducate people to deliver on the enterprise's new expectations.
Also, it's notable that 30 percent of these firms are starting fresh, by bringing in entirely new staff members, or starting with a clean slate regarding the purview of the marketing and business development for the entire firm. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents answered "Other." Their widely variable answers illustrate the broad spectrum of perspectives on how to address the effectiveness of marketing and business development functions.
But these findings left me with another question; they raise a second issue and a big concern. Remember, in Question 1, 65 percent of this survey’s respondents said their organizations are “proactively working” to make Marketing and Business Development functions more strategic. As much as we might celebrate the answers for this Question 2, and even if we give PSFs credit for undertaking multiple initiatives, none of the responses about specific programs even approached 50 percent! Why didn't more of our respondents identify the specific initiatives that they have underway? Why didn't more of them outline alternative formal processes in our "Other" option?
The simple answer? Perhaps my definition of "proactively working" differs from our respondents’ definitions. I had hoped to track well-defined programmatic initiatives, when in fact PSFs appear to be adopting more culturally diffuse and possibly softer set of processes to make their Marketing and Business Development functions broader, deeper and more strategic. There appears to be less formality here than what I had hoped to see.
It's important to recognize the level of sophistication that PSF leaders possess about making significant organization changes. I'd wager that PSF leaders are in the early stages of their own learning curve about driving their firms’ internal evolutions. Arguably, there is a place for cultural osmosis in evolving the functions of an enterprise. Perhaps just the simple act of having a conversation about increasing the functional effectiveness of Marketing and Business Development feels like a proactive organizational change to many PSF leaders. Our findings appear to corroborate this impression.
But PSFs will need to balance both informal and formal initiatives to ensure that they evolve the scope of the Marketing and BD functions. If applied intentionally, and as an accompaniment to a defined set of formal initiatives that are deployed across the enterprise, a soft cultural-osmosis definition of “proactively working” can be effective.
Otherwise, I fear PSF Marketing and BD functions will still be in danger of getting stuck in a rut.
Q3: How’s the effort going? (If answered Question 2)
Only 14 percent labeled their PSFs’ efforts to increase the strategic effectiveness of Marketing and Business Development as "absolutely fantastic so far." And little wonder. As we saw in the responses to Question 2 (full report available here), there has yet to be a strong coalescence around well-identified functional restructuring initiatives. Respondents once again remarked less about formal programs than they did about softer issues, including "focus," "support," and "pathways forward ... reveal themselves." Some respondents commented about individuals having to work "unbelievable hours ... to do two jobs," "boundary issues," "resistance to change," “skills are all over the place. Strategy is hard to teach and few really ‘get it,’" “some are adapting very well, some not so well," and "it's still a challenge with the ‘old school’ crowd."
Clearly, PSF leaders are encountering classic change-management issues.
Despite this rather depressing 14 percent, a solid 69 percent appear to have a strong sense of practicality and reason about the magnitude of the shifts underway. There's a distinct sense of staying the course with determination to continue toward an optimal goal.
As PSFs begin to see positive marketplace results from their decisions to evolve the scope and increase the strategic impact of their Marketing and Business Development functions, their perceptions of the value of these efforts will also increase. And, the more they embrace and manage the balancing act of real internal change –- structurally and culturally -- the faster these positive perceptions will rise.