Where does input-throughput-output fit into your business development system? For starters, consider how well you collaborate with your colleagues in various disciplines at your company. What happens when it comes time to hand off a technical or engineering project for commercialization by the marketing and sales folks? Learning to defer to the expertise of others can be traumatic and challenging for individuals working in non-collaborative corporate cultures.
Managing pride of project ownership, when transitioning that project, can be difficult. Ego is part of the equation, although we don’t like to admit it. We are afraid that if we let our “baby” go, it will turn into something we don’t recognize. We don’t want to relinquish control. For this reason, we remain involved in projects longer than we should. This business case is played out on a daily basis, not only in mature companies, but in technical startups as well. In this scenario, there is no fluid input-throughput-output.
If you work in a legacy system, project transfer can challenge the status quo of departments or disciplines which have had “their” way and dictated process and policy for as long as anyone can remember. These departments can’t imagine how things will turn out if they do not remain an integral part of the process. Instead, these disciplines try to interject themselves back into the thick of things, without respecting the new process owners.
Think input-throughput-output and the baton hand-offs between Olympic relay race runners.
Do you trust that the folks you hand off your baton to, for the next leg of the race, will do their job properly? Will they drop the baton and botch the role they play in the race?
That’s really your biggest fear, isn’t it?
Marketing and sales folks must understand that this perception is what keeps engineers hands-on for far too long.
Technical professionals become concerned that marketing and sales commercialization initiatives will lead to a failure which these engineering-intensive departments then become accountable for. Engineers become concerned about hand-offs, not only to marketing and sales, but also to another engineering department in another company that may be across the globe.
Project hand-off is an opportunity for everyone to take a new seat at the business table and serve in different, collaborative roles.
In this scenario, when one discipline’s major role is completed, they become “all ears” and listen to the language of marketing, sales, business development and perhaps even an engineering department half-way across the globe. This is where your technical team members ask great questions (not the second-guessing kind) that allow you and your sales and marketing team to provide even greater value to each other and your customers.
When project transition is handled in this manner, you gain a 360-degree perspective about the entirety of project input, throughput and output.
You can recycle your collaborative insights to the next new product development project you collaborate on with your technical colleagues.
In the majority of status quo corporate cultures, the hand off between engineering and marketing/sales is so contentious that no one is in the mood for further collaboration. It doesn’t have to be this way. It all boils down to a matter of cross-functional collaboration and trust between colleagues. Input-throughput-output. You all may know what you are doing, after all.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, focuses you and your company or startup on cultivating the mindset, skills, markets, customers, and investors necessary for professional and business growth. This article first appeared on the Salesforce.com blog and is reproduced with the author’s permission.