Are you reporting your strategic results when the company is focused on execution? An approach to getting heard is to sync your results with your company’s planning cycle.
Get on the planning agenda…where the senior leaders will hear you
There is a time when management is planning and there is a time when the organization is executing against those plans. If you report results during the execution phase, your insights may be ignored and forgotten when planning time comes around.
Our best bet for being heard and influencing strategies is to get our data to those who can use it when they need it — during the planning phase – even if that data is from a study completed six months earlier. This allows us to influence those large corporate initiatives.
Steps for getting invited to the planning meeting
First, you have to have something to say. Cull through your research and identify the top 5-7 customer insights of the year; the insights you believe management really needs to hear. You want those few insights that really matter. The more you try to communicate, the lower the likelihood your insights will be used.
Next, get on the planning agenda early in the process so you can share your top insights with senior leaders while they are interested in hearing them and might do something about them. You have valuable information. What management group would not be interested in a brief overview of the most important insights of the year? And who among them would say he or she doesn’t care what the customer thinks? I have not seen this fail.
You may choose to work through your management, or better yet, simply get your bosses’ approval while you work to get your “Top 5” on the agenda. I prefer the latter approach as I know my findings will be heard if I’m the one pushing for them. Learn who is in charge of managing the planning process, then work with this person to get on the agenda. He or she will likely have to run the idea past their management, but given your content, the odds of your inclusion and presenting to decision-makers will be very high.
Share insights, not data
Don’t structure your presentation like a typical research report. Here are a few tips for this leadership audience:
- In this setting, state your point-of-view with just enough data to support. And certainly not every data point you have.
- Make sure the insights are pithy and to the point. Absolutely not “researchy.”
- Bring in other, non-research supporting points if possible – it will add credibility to your points.
- Avoid method discussions. If you are presenting to this level of the organization, they will trust you can execute properly. If they begin asking method questions, it is a sign they don’t like or agree with your insights. Address the real issue; going into method details will not convince them.
- Think through who and why someone might disagree with your points and address this in your presentation.
- Be prepared to defend your point-of-view in the resulting discussion. It is this discussion where your knowledge and understanding can shine.
We recently recommended this approach to a client. He was added to the agenda last minute. We worked together over the weekend building his Top 10 Insights of The Year. He walked out of the presentation after his delivery to receive a high-five from his CMO.
This is exactly where our profession should be – providing the insights to those at the top of the company as they are formulating plans and strategies.
And it’s even more fun when we can get that high-five.