24 March 2018

Liaison Mission: When Will You Introduce Them?

As a current Chief Executive Officer or Commander across some branch or agency, who have you named as a key "Liaison?"  Who is this vital person that you have asked to be your voice, your thinking and your representative to a partner, collaborator or strategic ally?

In Chris Fussell's book One Mission:  How Leaders Build A Team of Teams, the Task Force Liaison is described as follows:
"We clearly share a determined adversary--one that, unlike our organizations, is networked and thus moves with incredible speed. In the Task Force, we are now trying to forge a new type of model based on relationships among individuals and organizations like yours--and we'd like to be more closely connected with your organization. Winning will come from leveraging our mutual strengths, sharing insights and nuanced understanding of the problems and respecting one another's positions.

To help our partnership, we would like to give you one of our best people as a liaison. I expect our liaison to be an asset to you, sharing anything we're doing, providing our most timely intelligence, and seeking out ways that we can help your organization accomplish its goals."
This idea is not a new strategy per se.  Similar derivations of the concept have been utilized for hundreds if not thousands of years.  So why is this so important now, to the current state of global and corporate affairs?

The first reason is that operating at the speed of "iMessaging" social media, will create chasms of misunderstanding.  The simple fact is that information being collected, interpreted and disseminated in your digital-based platforms will most likely have gaps.  The messaging and communications will be hard to decipher by others, who don't know all of the acronyms as just one example.

This is where an embedded "Liaison Officer" or representative can bridge the cultures and the lines of direct messaging.  This is how the speed of the combined network is increased in it's ability to pivot, to adapt and to solve problems, faster and with higher quality than the competition.

The second reason is that a key mission of the nominated Liaison is to establish, maintain and perpetuate trusted relationships.  Otherwise, how can the leaders of your two organizations gain any momentum, in the quality and the speed of the partnership that is desired as a relevant outcome?

Now think about your own organization.  Where do you have a blind spot?  What other entity, team, business unit or agency is now seen as a barrier or competitor?  Are you both after the same customer, the same target or the same outcome?  Is a partnership in place now, to even embed or exchange Liaison personnel?

Believe us when we say that your adversary has already done the same.  They are working together across boundaries to share intelligence, to exchange vital data and to work in tandem to perpetuate their cause, their ideology or their campaign.  They have their own trusted Liaison's working each day, to move faster than you are and to achieve new gains in their mission, while you are worried about the unknowns.

Who is it in your organization that you feel that you can't live without?  The one or two leaders that you rely on each day.  The personality that exhibits the way that "Adam Grant" describes a "Giver" or "Matcher," in the way they operate across the team and within the company.  This may be the best person for you to let go of and to be your next "Liaison" to that vital partner, agency or even country.

Looking across the landscape of America, you will find examples of this idea and methodology that is working.  You will find places across the globe where it is in total failure.  Yet how can you raise the odds, that the likelihood of the person you choose to be embedded with another organization, will indeed succeed?

As a current Team Leader, CEO or Commander, it means you will have to go a step farther.  It means that you will have to take this person side-by-side in many cases, into the same office, SOC, NOC or conference room to explain it face-to-face.  Sitting across the table from this partnered organizations top executive, you say it:

"I have carefully selected "Jill or Jack" to be our Liaison with your unit or department.  It is something we know to be of great value to the ongoing mission we both face, to address the (problem-set).

 Please know that she/he knows me very well and how I think and what our organizations real capabilities are.  We will miss them, yet want her/him to work alongside your leaders to learn as fast as possible about your greatest hurdles and problems.  It is only then, that we envision a chance for our respective teams to move faster with the most effective joint solutions, to obtain and synchronize our advantage." 

This few minutes face-to-face may make all the difference on the potential for a successful and trusted relationship.  As you stand up and leave your Liaison with their new assigned organization, remember this.

Your Liaison's ability to succeed, will only be as good as the job you have done in preparing them for the assignment.  Think about all the months or years you have worked to shape their character, to instill the ethics and integrity into their daily decisions.  How many problems did you let them solve on their own?

We look forward to hearing the stories about your "Liaison's" and their respective missions to achieve decision advantage and to reach those lofty outcomes you seek...

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