Aside

Listen to the Oppressed

We often listen to the top performers inside the organization. The people who have titles of VP of Strategy or VP of product management, or the COO. Those are the people that are often asked to weigh in on growth strategies or competitive plays.
You know who isn’t asked to be involved?
The people who are the troublemakers in the organization.
The people on the front lines of the service phone calls.
The sales people who haven’t made their number.
Those people are not considered worthy of ‘the list’. And yet they often have a perspective worth listening to.
Here’s the thing. To grow, you need to serve the customers that complain. You need to see what products are not yet “whole product solutions” and thus hard to sell. You need to see the people who gyrate against the current business practices because they don’t work. Those people are not the top performers put on the top of the list. But they know a lot. A lot about what’s not working. A lot about what is needed.
And it’s not to say that they will have all the answers, but they will have some.
We listen to the rich, but we need to learn to listen to the oppressed. The voices that are often not heard are the ones that can add a dimension to a growth strategy that can’t be found at the top of the organization. It’s not glamorous and it likely won’t make it into the PPT slide that goes to the CEO or to the Board. It will however make a difference in how that strategy actually becomes reality. And you’ve heard me say it before. A strategy not made into reality is just a set of theoretical slides. Strategy has to be about the outcomes that are created.
Listen to the Oppressed. Those voices need to be heard.

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