Simon Kelly’s article Align or Die draws attention to a problem that afflicts organisations who find that their sales and marketing departments are at odds with each other.
You would think that organisations would have a common purpose and the people in them would work together to achieve common aims.
Simon points out this is actually less evident than you might expect and the waste and futility of misaligned customer facing functions is commonplace.
The social reality of course is that the desire to have the power to ‘call the shots’ about what matters to customers is very appealing.
This means that despite the ‘warmth’ rhetoric of collaboration, co-operation and co-creation everyday business activities are steeped in the idea of competition.
I think one of the issues is the social and cognitive effort needed by those involved to engage in the act of co-operation.
It takes time to communicate with others and it is emotionally demanding listening to and absorbing different points of view. It then takes even more effort to build a new combined view of the world and a new set of assumptions about how it works.
The easy option is to engineer yourself into a position where you don’t have to listen. You become the King of Meaning. It’s your take on what matters and all others are irrelevant.
The interesting thing here though is that our points of view are very personal. This means that when, lets say, the marketing function declares that the sales point of view is irrelevant they are really saying that sales people as human beings are irrelevant. Ouch!
Bridging the marketing and sales divide must therefore begin by everyone valuing the people involved in the task of customer interaction regardless of function. Without this as a foundation then alignment will remain a mirage in the desert.