What’s one big red flag indicating that a cross-functional strategy will struggle? When the organization delays choosing a leader for the cross-functional team to oversee the initiative’s development and implementation. 

Unfortunately, we have experienced clients delaying choosing team leaders far too often. This happens even though we press them to identify a leader even before we launch strategy planning.

Why is choosing a cross-functional leader ASAP such a big deal?


Neglecting to choose a leader early digs a hole that you can get out of, but why fall behind right away? 

We see these nine benefits as compelling reasons for choosing a cross-functional leader ASAP in the earliest strategy planning stages:

  1. When the organization makes the decision quickly, it demonstrates trust in the leader. The organization can then fully invest in preparing the leader for implementation.
  2. Early involvement gives the leader a big ownership stake in the initiative’s implementation and success.
  3. A leader who is in place early can anticipate opportunities and challenges, along with ways to address them.
  4. Engaging a cross-functional leader early in collaborative planning helps shape the narrative for the team’s thinking and development.
  5. A designated leader can play an active role in balancing broad thinking and a realistic scope as the initiative plan emerges.
  6. Once the leadership decision is made, the cross-functional leader plays an active role in championing and growing support for the initiative.
  7. Having the future leader in place creates a review and decision making structure throughout the initiative’s development. You’ll experience the benefit of having an individual with direct responsibility engaged early.
  8. You want someone with responsibility for implementation participating in making decisions and setting priorities.
  9. Everyone will save time instead of having to backtrack and explain copious background information to a leader chosen too late.

There’s no overwhelming reason we’ve come across to delay leadership decisions. Trust us: engage smart leader candidates right away whenever you are pursuing cross-functional initiatives. – Mike Brown

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