Mike Kamm Speaks: Have an Expert Help Make the Case

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by a fellow Alliance member who had an issue with his company's board. The company needed to make investments to ensure long-term growth. However, the board was more concerned with quarterly growth and meeting the expectations of Wall Street. As a result, the Alliance member was having difficulty making his case.

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

Boards often trust outside experts more than inside executives. If you're having trouble getting through, an outside, third-party "˜validator' may stand a better chance.

Your situation is not uncommon, and I know you're struggling with the challenge. You could make a great case for investing in developing a new product or an acquisition, but it just doesn't seem to resonate with the board, which is more interested in meeting analysts' expectations quarter to quarter.

If I were in your shoes, I would get a third party industry expert to make the case that these investments are necessary to help "my" company. An expert who is steeped in the industry or the initiative I want to pursue could use examples and provide data points to demonstrate to my board how a major investment in growth may in fact cause quarterly issues, but would be the right decision in the the long run. If I could, I would make sure the expert had a breadth of industry perspective and interaction with my competitive set that I, as an internal executive, just wouldn't have.

There's another reason why third-party experts can help. If I and my team made major decisions on our own, it can sometimes appear to others that we have a personal agenda, or that we are protecting our self-interests. But if I have someone who is perceived as a neutral advisor, and who can help make the case for our decisions, those concerns can be mitigated pretty effectively.

Boards often trust outside experts more than inside executives as well. If you are having trouble getting through to the board, an outside, third-party "˜validator' may stand a better chance.