At the top of the best delivery-focused organizations sits a chief enroller. That person pulls different groups in and gets them to work together across matrices and eco-systems to move things from point A to point B better than other organizations can even imagine. These leaders seem to begin every thought with “we.” For them, it’s never about individuals and always about pairs and collaborators.
The overall thesis of this series of four articles is that the only four ways to succeed as a CEO are to act as chief enabler, enforcer, enroller or customer experience officer. This is the final choice flowing from your overall strategic choice, which dictates your choice of culture, organization, how to operate, and the CEO’s role.
The framework for What It Takes To Accelerate Through A Strategic Inflection Point is laid out in that earlier article. The main point is that you must align your culture, organization, operations and CEO’s real job around one of four strategies. The overall framework for CEOs’ focus is laid out in my article on Why Most CEOs Are Not Strategic Personally. This current article will dig into what it means to be the chief enroller.
Delivery/product supply organizations have cultures of interdependence, order and safety (and stability), project/program driven interpersonal leaders operating in matrices with shared responsibility led by chief enrollment officers leveraging team charters to encourage collaboration.
Strategy – Deliver
Being best in class delivery or distribution requires people working together interdependently to solve an endless array of complex problems.
Culture – Interdependence
Best in class delivers are all about interdependence. They bring order and safety to chaos.
Organization – Matrix
For delivery organizations, everything is matrixed because there’s always more than one party involved in every process. There’s a sender, a receiver, and all those in the middle. And, in many cases, none of those parties officially work for the same organizations.
Operations – Shared Responsibility
The core of interdependence is sharing responsibility. If no one person or group can accomplish the task on their own, responsibility must be shared.
CEO – Chief Enroller
In a delivery-focused, interdependent endeavor with people sharing responsibility to bring order and safety to chaos, the “E” in CEO stands for Enrolling. The ultimate leader’s ultimate job is to bring people together and inspire and enable them to work together.
For these leaders, team charters are their tools of choice. Team charters help teams understand their purpose (why), objectives and goals (what), context and approach (how), resources and guidelines.
Matrices get maligned. Many see them as confused, unclear, and complicated. They can be and certainly make it harder for independently-minded people to do what they do best. But matrices force interdependence, critical for delivery.
If you’re leading a delivery-focused organization, embrace the matrix. There’s no room for star individual performers that cannot embrace the need for interdependence.
Enrolling is a special skill. Where others can focus all their efforts on star designers, default to telling people what to do, or delegate customer decisions to others, your day is all about influencing. You have to influence people to sign up to work with you in the first place. You have to influence them to work with others. You have to influence them to keep at it when things fray around the edges – which they will.
In many ways, the value is in the complication. If it were simple, others could do it. Your competitive advantage is going to lie in the interdependent order and safety. Done well, your organization will be able to deliver things others can’t imagine. Done almost as well, you’ll deliver what others can deliver, but more reliably, faster, safer and less expensively than others can do.
Because there are so many moving parts in a delivery organization, there’s no rest for the weary. Customers will change. Competitors will change. Collaborators will change. Conditions will change. Your own capabilities will change. Your role as chief enroller must change with every one of those changes. You’re be singing the Beatles song “Come Together” over and over in your sleep – if you have time for sleep.