Member Jerry Turin Speaks: Try Being More Subtle First

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought to a recent Alliance meeting by an Alliance Member, GM of a business unit who had been asked by his CEO to contribute more at the corporate level. The member decided the firm needed a more formalized planning structure, but his efforts received a lackluster support from the CEO and mixed signals from other executives. Here's what Jerry Turin, CFO of Intematix, a materials development innovator of patented phosphors for energy efficient LED light, shared with the Alliance member.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

You're really onto something. From what I know of your company and its scale, formal planning would have great value. I know you're thinking about taking a more aggressive stance, and I understand why. But prior to the CEO recognizing the value, changing the company culture from a "good work every day" approach to a planning environment will be difficult.

Why not try a subtle approach? If I were in your shoes, I would pick key areas of "my" company or certain projects that badly need planning, then partner up with the executives involved and "help them be more successful." I would do the planning with them. Maybe I wouldn't even call it planning, but that's what it would be.

After I had some key wins, and after I helped the company dodge a few failures because my planning helped identify the risks, I would show "my" company quarterly snapshots of these projects so my colleagues could see what I was talking about.

The bottom line is that to effect major change in a company the CEO needs to recognize the value proposition and that you may drive yourself crazy trying to make meaningful progress in the meantime. Therefore it's much better to demonstrate the power of planning first. Once everyone sees its value, bring it back as a broader concept.