One Rock in Big Business

Last year I went to pitch to a company valued in the hundreds of millions of dollar. We were pitching a relatively trivial project and yet I was almost stunned by the size of the rock it appeared needed to be moved to make the decision to move forward on the approval and contracting of the project.

Of course, the rock is a metaphor for corporate inertia and (somewhat) indifference, the protectionist attitude of “if I don’t make a decision, I can’t be blamed for screwing up!”

Time and time again, and in all sizes of companies, the ‘cover your butt’ attitude creates a barrier to solving an important problem. If this was just a matter of choosing the softest toilet paper for the company loo it wouldn’t be an issue, but this kind of indecision in marketing can make or break a company’s efforts in acquiring and maintaining a customer base.

So how does one beat the system?

In the bigger companies I’ve come to a realization that it just isn’t possible without either empowering and *actually granting* the autonomy of a particular division or department, or a CEO-down re engineering of the core (and often entrenched) corporate culture. Without that kind of ‘break the mould’ mandate folks are just too busy covering their butts to affect change.

With that in mind my premise to overcome any problem ‘one rock at a time’ comes into play. A well-defined, logical, phased and hand-holding approach can gain acceptance and approval from these types of clients, with the vendor taking on more of a consulting role (and sticking their neck out more) in the process.

This isn’t a perfect answer in all circumstances, and greater risk equates to more time = greater cost. A campaign for a ‘driven by committee’ organization should, and will, be estimated higher than a project with a ‘you have full-access to the CEO’ scenario.

Approaching the problem ‘one rock at a time’, moving the smaller stones that then open up the way for the larger rock to roll, works. Whether one can effectively and justifiably charge for the extra effort and time involved is this issue. Before you take the job, make sure you’re covered.

For those looking at this from the other end of the eyeglass, look at your organization and see if your employees are empowered to move at least their own ‘rock’. It make the organization more fluid, more effective *and* more profitable!

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