Executive leaders need to be focused on the future value of the firm as a first priority. Future value ultimately defines the executive leader’s legacy and is the location of their accountability.
Other C-Suite leaders and directors that surround the executive leader are normally fully occupied guiding the management of the firm’s current value so that a future value is possible.
Current and future value are not the same thing even though there may be considerable overlap and mutual influence on each other.
Current value can be increased through efficiencies that the whole company works to achieve. This involves production, systems, performance, playbooks, tracking, reporting and accountability. Sometimes outside expertise is helpful in finding and implementing efficiencies. Normally, such assistance is a technical (known) solution to a technical (known) problem that the expert has developed. While this is often sold as “consulting” it is more accurately called contracting. Contractors and vendors perform specific work tied to specific outcomes that improve the firm’s current value.
Future value is increased through executive leaders navigating the firm beyond current value to what they are discovering to be unknown territory. This involves creation, disruption, advancement, innovation, adjustment, discovery, experimentation and breakthrough. Additional and outside expertise is usually needed to discover and then move toward future value. Normally, such assistance is finding a series of adaptive (unknown) moves toward an adaptive (unknown) problem that the executive leader has begun to identify. Walking with the firm through this process toward future value, co-learning with the executive leader, helping the executive leader determine what needs to be done and what actually will be done, is the purest form of consulting.
Executive leaders often find themselves unable to work at future value because they are caught up in the management of the current value. And when they do work at it, it is often alone. Executive leaders cannot develop the future value of the firm all by themselves. They benefit from designing the adaptive process with someone trained to help them stay focused on answering the questions below:
WHY does this matter? Does it tie to our mission’s success?
WHO will play what role with me as we work through this? Who decides, does the work, supervises, pays for it, communicates about it, and needs to be consulted along the way?
WHAT criteria will we use to decide we are succeeding? Do all of those persons included as WHO above have opportunity to form these criteria?
WHEN does this work need to be completed? If there is no real deadline, when do we want it to be completed?
WHERE does the work need to be done? If there is not a specific location, is there a specific domain inside of which this work is being completed?
HOW will we proceed from here? What action steps and sequences will we follow?
Adaptive processes that develop a firm’s future value almost always fall apart when one or more of these questions are not being paid attention to or have not been answered. Executive leaders cannot manage this conversation and inject their ideas simultaneously. They benefit from retaining a consultant who:
Walks beside the executive leader to manage the process and pay attention to these questions
Points the way toward expertise (contractors/vendors/researches) who can do specific work once adaptive moves begin to reveal technical solutions
Does all the above with the future value of the firm and the executive’s accountability in mind
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About the Author
Mark L. Vincent (PhD, CCNL) is the Director of the Convene Consulting Network. He is also the founder of Design Group International, an organizational development company providing wise guidance for enterprise, nonprofits, and ministry organizations. His passion is to love leaders as they claim their life vocation as stewards of enterprise.