By Andrejs K. Bunkse
We’ve all heard the saying: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But how many of us have been engaged with an organization that doesn’t seem to be able to bridge the disconnect that exists between its stakeholders? Invariably, operations are at odds with sales & marketing. Accounting is not in alignment with research and development. Most strikingly, legal and government affairs efforts are often completely detached from core corporate strategies.
Of course, it’s good to have some healthy tension between departments. But it is grossly inefficient and often fatal when a company fails to distill common objectives and consistency throughout the organization.
Breaking apart organizational silos is critical in driving growth, especially if your business is in multiple states/countries and expects to expand into others. The “corporate kingdom” mindset makes it difficult to act quickly or efficiently.
Today, I’ll talk about integrating government affairs personnel with corporate leadership. Each lobbyist I hire comes in to the relationship knowing that he/she must be prepared to fulfill the criteria listed below.
- Spend substantial time meeting with core corporate leaders – to understand the company culture, objectives, weaknesses, threats and strengths.
- Develop model legislation or model administrative rules (depending upon the issue), then expect to defend these models to the same core corporate leaders and then actively amend and rewrite until corporate buy-in occurs.
- Write weekly summaries to management describing legislative and political goals, hurdles, and corporate support needs – and to amend accordingly depending upon push back.
- Build a strong direct relationship with corporate communications and public relations infrastructure to better understand company events and messaging.
- Meet telephonically at least on a quarterly basis with the company’s other government affairs personnel and lobbyists with a planned agenda set by corporate leadership.
- Meet in person at least once annually with the government affairs team, public relations and core corporate leadership to work through the next years’ corporate objectives, strengths, weaknesses and new product initiatives.
For many years I’ve followed these simple requirements when using 3rd party government affairs personnel. When done well, the end results are specific and easily measured. And corporate leadership can confidently know exactly what they are getting for the money spent.