Business consultants frequently discuss the importance of having an aligned workforce – one with an identified and accepted culture, common values, a shared vision for the future, and a uniformly adopted strategic plan for getting there. I would suggest for businesses of all shapes and sizes the need for alignment extends beyond your workforce to include, at a minimum, your legal counsel and other important advisers.
Why, you might ask, is it important that your outside advisers be “aligned” with you and your business? In the simplest terms, having aligned advisers results in: (i) less wasted time; (ii) less wasted money in both consulting fees and lost opportunities; (iii) less frustration and misunderstandings; (iv) more productive negotiations and transactions; and (v) more meaningful and direct accomplishment of your business goals.
So, what does it mean to have aligned advisers, and how do you get them? Here are a few thoughts:
• First, choosing the “right” advisers is critical – different advisers have different personalities, approaches and philosophies – choose those that share yours from a big picture perspective. But understand that this alone is not enough.
• Remember, you set the course – not them. Aligned advisers adopt your approach, not theirs – so they need to know what your approach is and what your objectives are.
• In addition, your advisers must know what tactics and methods you want to use to achieve your objectives – overall and in each transaction or circumstance. Make sure your directions are clear in this regard. Think joint venture versus distributor, or even 50-page agreement versus handshake deal.
• Make sure your advisers are informed as to changes in culture, philosophy, tactics, objectives, budget, etc. They can’t execute what they don’t know.
• Finally, periodically evaluate your advisers and their alignment. If they don’t get passing marks, make a change.
The value of alignment cannot be overstated. Make it part of your consulting and advisory relationships.