Elevate “conscious collaboration” over internal & external competition to establish a current & long-term advantage

By: Bill Van Eron Wednesday July 25, 2018 0 comments Tags: Bill Van Eron

Van_Eron_headerBy Bill Van Eron

Conscious Market Strategist

Headwaters Marketing & Innovation

Context -- Organizations have long had direct pressure to differentiate and beat the competition. Yet many fail as they continually overlook today’s success requirements as set by their markets and employees. Arguably: What’s the point of beating your competition when by all counts that matter, you fail to earn trust, credibility and relevance?

Individually, as times change, people struggle to choose careers that prove out to deliver the anticipated value versus adapting to thrive by staying relevant. Conversely, all musical groups know you have to be in rhythm with each other and your audience. Embracing simple truths works for them, as it also should for you.

Leaders place unrealistic focus and pressure on core functions to do better, without realizing how major gaps in trust, relevance, credibility and inclusion are causing all to fail. This blog reveals clues about a better path for people, business and markets to align to a better rhythm. Feat, don’t fail me now. 

Context A -- Internal Competition. Core functions -- sales, marketing, R&D, HR, finance, channels -- should work together towards open and shared goals, yet too few do. Those of you who worked in a larger company highly likely experienced internal rivalries and competition which manifest as resistance to working across the aisle in earnestness. In 2017, when many CEOs mandated marketing to account for revenues growth, Deloitte stated that around 86% failed and showed that support from other functions was situational at best. Competition can originate because of functional managers with egos; a bias or a propensity to dominate strategy, funding, and eventually the culture of your company. In “knowledge organizations,” such as technology, science, medical, pharma…there is often a deep and embedded silo dominance that can greatly limit how effective other functions can be.

I experienced that firsthand as tech companies product-focused culture, versus assuring there was a strong value, trust and relevancy context other stakeholders had to establish - translated to failure where that did not happen. 

Long-time organizational silos have a tendency to limit the effectiveness of an organization as a whole. These actions inadvertently create a closed, internally focused culture. The impact may go unchecked for decades, which defines another major problem: The inability to secure an objective assessment of where a company really is in terms of internal and market effectiveness.

The sum of both now defines your success ecosystem. The lack of one conscious open culture defeats the need for a strategy all help shape and support. It threatens the cohesiveness of the organization at all levels. In this pattern, the company fails.

Some try to remedy this by cleaning house at all levels to ensure the new/remaining leaders’ personalities will help heal the organization instead of perpetuating the damage. The simple truth: Fear breeds stagnation and open, engaged cultures breed innovative high-performance companies.  

Context B -- External Competition. All companies work to “beat the competition.” The larger a company becomes, the more dominant that rallying call. Some of you who found yourself in those environs may have noted that propensity to study and beat every competitor inadvertently blocked the depth of meaningful insight one could have placed on the customer and changes impacting them.

This is a classic rah-rah effort that permeated our society where being better than “them” was more important than being “your best” by understanding what matters to others across your ecosystem from a conscious perspective.

Prevailing Truths:

1. Employees prefer entrepreneurial work environments where they can challenge the status quo, learn and refine new skills so they can be participant to the success of a business with a purpose. Recent polls to Millennials and younger gens reveal a strong resistance to large companies that struggle here. Improve this to achieve a huge current and ongoing advantage. Being first shows credibility.

2. Conscious management would not make a “management first” edict. Yet most organizations fail to recognize and reward their real champions to success. Sharing wins helps to solve a major need for more employees to care to shape work that matters. Gallup states that today only 15% of all global employees are emotionally connected to work. Apply inclusion and recognize champions in ways that matter.

3. Your markets have total transparency to how genuine you are to promises made internally & externally. They require a company to have a foundation in trust, credibility and relevance. Companies in turn, have little to no transparency to what works, why not and how to fix it as a system. Gain full transparency now.

4. While about 98% of all companies stress about internal and external competition, less than 2% are measuring up to their markets now universal requirements. That path was obscured by risk aversion, closed cultures, control versus enablement, authority over inclusion, and a real fear transformation will be slow, expensive, unproductive and self-revealing, versus embracing it as vital as it is proving to be for success today. Fear not, seek solutions that address both fears and being the best you sooner.

 5. Outside-in objectivity is a crucial factor to success that too few apply. Today, as the absence of objectivity proves crucial, traditional sources are less prepared to offer that, Success requires a value creation mindset across your ecosystem. Get beyond internal truths to establish external truths.    

Related objectivity examples:

An Internal View: In a new Test & Measurement division of a Fortune 50 company, two of us approached our management with interest to get our company back into the Education market. The leader was very open to our idea. So he recommended we address the sales force on it as their support would be important. The sales force response: “Stay away as it is a long sales process and ultimately a lowest price decision. We can’t win.”

Ask yourself; Wouldn’t that be an insurmountable truth? Suspecting it as an internal truth based on a sales agenda, versus being a market truth, which can shape higher value organizations and brand when heard and acted on, I initiated discussions with university professors, administrators, and students. The conversation focused on their goals, hopes & challenges.

Results of an external view on brand value:

That list gave us the empathetic insight we needed to easily shift our approach from that of a vendor, to that of a partner. We shaped programs for their success and created free tools, so professors wearing 8 hats were less stressed, and students worried that what they learn is less relevant to larger firms, were properly informed. This market view & approach reinstated the trust, credibility and functional relevance between our company and education. Budding engineers now helped by us, developed brand preference. Sales quickly hit $100M, then grew by $100M each of the next two years. Make sure you always get an external view of what really matters. Embrace outside-in objectivity

Moving forward:

  1. Invest in your market and they will invest in you. Especially where your help exceeds the norm.
  2. When employees help define work that has a purpose, they realize their best and earn market regard.
  3. Your journey is far bigger than just your product. Your customer’s expectations have existed for decades. Align your journey to their value requirements and win big.
  4. When internal champions step up to define and lead actions that matter, recognize and reward them,
  5. This approach to invest in others that shape success across the ecosystem – whether with editors, analysts, resellers, sales force and customers – revealed larger needs, truths and actions. Without fail, it created a vital and consistent foundation of trust, credibility, relevance and a culture of pride, innovation, inclusion and revenue growth. Revenue Growth exceeded all expectations for 11 years.


The advanced lessons I was fortunate enough to realize by having a strong market and team value compass are incredibly timely for today, with even better outcomes. Take care of your people by being open; value objectivity by embracing outside-in thinking, and prepare, enable, and recognize your champions to transform into being a company that markets prefer to work with. While all else define themselves against their competition, and infrequently see gains, as you define your brand by the values of your internal and external ecosystem, you prosper now and for decades to come.

Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron sees this as a time for a new level of systems & design-think mindfulness to step up and shape value beyond norms that hogtie most organizations. As founder of Headwaters Marketing & Innovation, an alliance partner with RapidKTservices.com, and others, Bill’s rare extended experience leading the actions that most only theorize about today, gives orgs & employees a distinct, agile, unifying advantage. Chat with me at [email protected] or https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-van-eron/ to enjoy that experience on tap so you can grow effective teams, purpose and revenues faster & more sustainably.