8 Key Lessons I’ve Learned On How To Build Global Alignment With A “Cast Of Thousands”Executive Communityon May 8, 2024 at 1:17 pm Work It Daily


To build efficiency, scale, impact, and demand for your business, an aligned go-to-market approach isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a requirement. Siloed functional success can sustain your business, but to truly maximize your ROI and impact in the market for exponential growth, an integrated go-to-market approach that has strong internal worldwide alignment is critical for the collective success of the business. With over 20 years of experience leading integrated marketing initiatives, I’ve learned that there is both an “art” and “science” approach to building global alignment with a “cast of thousands.”

The “science” behind how you structure, model, and operationalize your internal approach helps to naturally foster and facilitate organizational collaboration. The “art” behind how you build alignment and momentum is by being observant, astute, and in tune with what is happening both internally in the business and externally in the market. And by listening and tuning in, you can pick up on opportunities that will help you garner momentum.

Here are the eight lessons I’ve learned in garnering successful internal global alignment:

Lesson 1 – Operational Model and Approach

If you aren’t set up with a “hub-and-spoke” organizational and operational model as a PMO-like structure, organizational behaviors from a lack of structure like this can sabotage the day-to-day working behaviors.

Define a core, centralized go-to-market and integrated marketing planning function led by your global integrated marketing strategy team in conjunction with executive input, product, product marketing, sales, and regions as the core “hub” for building alignment.

The go-to-market business and marketing strategic guidance set the stage for the “spokes” or the multi-disciplinary marketing team to align directionally with their contributing plans.

I’ve learned that this operational hub-and-spoke model sets the stage for a core “hub” team to inspire a shared vision for your cross-functional marketing team to get behind. Without alignment upfront of these strategies that are developed, you will lack buy-in, struggle, and come across obstacles and hiccups, not only creating costly cycles for your business but diminish the impact you make for the business through delays opening room for your competition to take advantage of it.

Lesson 2 – Planning Rhythm of the Business

Set upfront expectations on the approach to planning and map out key milestones and deadlines for each team’s contributions when building an end-to-end planning and execution process. Solicit feedback so cross-teams have ample time to formulate their strategies and plans as these teams’ contributed plans are the legs to prop up and support the business’s integrated go-to-market and global marketing strategies.

Besides the “science” of establishing the planning process and timelines, I’ve learned that the small gesture of soliciting feedback on the key milestones and giving teams ample time delivers a subtle but important message that you have the cross team’s back and value their time.

Lesson 3 – Cultivating a Respectful Working Environment

Respecting the expertise and contributions from cross-functional teams should be a given but I’m often surprised that isn’t always the case. The specialized expertise and perspective that each function brings in informing, shaping, strategizing, and executing is important to take into consideration. No one person can garner the depth of expertise contributed by each cross-functional team. Respect for their experience and contributions is so critical.

Sales can bring a customer-focused view you may not be privy to. Regional marketing has local market dynamics and cultural insights to share. Legal will provide ensure you manage risks when it comes to adopting new technologies in marketing like AI. You may come across gaps; in this case, it’s important to support those areas in however many ways you can contribute to their success. Jointly problem-solve, troubleshoot, and brainstorm to support the gap and in some cases, leverage data to help with addressing the gaps.

Lesson 4 – Words Matter

Are you using language that fosters a team-oriented culture in your communication? Using words like “we,” “the team,” and “together” go a long way in fostering inclusivity.

Lesson 5 – Hunt for and Make Known Team Wins

Along the way, there will be wins to highlight and celebrate together. When working closely with cross-functional teams, you can partner to establish KPIs and metrics. It’s important to play a role of giving visibility to executive stakeholders and the cross-functional teams worldwide of those wins and progressions by reporting out those metrics and acknowledging those individuals and cross-functional teams who are making those wins happen both short and long term.

Not only does this encourage the heart of those working hard to support your global strategies but it provides incentives for those teams to strive towards achieving and even exceeding their contributions. I’ve learned that being a “behind the scenes” leader and evangelizing the contributions of the cross-team by highlighting their wins helps to foster a tighter team.

In addition, it’s important to be on the hunt for the right win at the right time. It can stoke a fire that trailblazes the momentum you need to garner excitement and encouragement that spreads throughout the organization.

Lesson 6 – Transparency in Intent and Communication

I’ve learned that transparency and prioritizing the best interests of the business foster collaboration and prevent divergent strategies with cross-team activities.

While it is natural that cross-teams have a unique perspective to offer, the key is understanding what is driving that and making sure it’s connected with the greater good you are all trying to accomplish. In addition, it’s critical to provide objective transparency about what you know, hear, and learn so that the virtual cross-team is always armed with the latest insights. This will be valuable in enabling the cross-functional team to optimize their support initiatives and stay focused on what’s best for the business by staying continuously informed. Transparent intent and communication are vital for staying focused and aligned.

Lesson 7 – Foster an Environment of Objectivity

It’s easy for subjectivity to start to creep in with a dynamic, worldwide cross-functional team of a “cast of thousands.” I’ve experienced situations where there can be a lot of opinions that aren’t grounded on facts, metrics, or research, and subjective opinions come into play that can steer activities in the wrong direction.

By maintaining an environment of neutrality and objectivity that is grounded and backed, it helps to maintain alignment. Anytime subjectivity of opinions comes into the conversation, disagreements within the team are bound to happen throwing the entire team off their path. Remind the team of the task at hand and facilitate the conversation to shift towards one based on facts, data, and evidence.

Lesson 8 – Data, Data, Data!

That subjectivity I just mentioned can be a grey area that creates differences of opinions at times within the cross-functional teams. Data can be your tool in helping to facilitate agreement with the teams who have differing views. I’ve learned not to limit the scope of data to just your marketing metrics data. Consider third-party market data, competitive intelligence, analyst research, input from sales insights, and customer support experiences in helping facilitate the differing perspectives within and in helping to prioritize.

When a “cast of thousands” cross-functional set of teams worldwide are aligned around a shared vision, magic happens. People work cohesively. They feel empowered. They are acknowledged for their contributions and take pride in the joint effort. All led by an agenda that focuses on what is best for the business. It can cultivate an undercurrent of positive change and transformation that can weather the storming phase of the forming, storming, norming, performing change management cycle.

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