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Managing Across Business Disciplines

One of the big challenges of running an organization is managing across business disciplines. That is one of the many insights shared in Stephen Diorio and Chris Hummel’s book Revenue Operations.

Managing Across Business Disciplines

The book I wrote with Shane (Xin) Wang — The Customer Asset — looked at the problem of customer valuation. We discussed that it isn’t used as much as the power of the customer valuation approach suggests it should be. Diorio and Hummel give a reason for that underuse which makes a lot of sense. Some ideas somewhat fall between the cracks in organizational structure. As no one, not the information systems people, not the sales team, not the accountants, and not the marketing team is responsible for it, no one does it.

This doesn’t just apply to customer valuation. Many customer-facing tasks, the sort of actions associated with revenue generation, suffer a similar fate.

…it’s impossible to deliver a superior customer experience when your revenue cycle consists of disconnected processes, policies, procedures, and machines.

Diorio and Hummel, 2022, page 4.

Business is inherently interdisciplinary. As such, you should be careful about breaking it into silos. (One might argue that business schools contribute to this through our departmental structures and the need to publish in narrowly focused disciplinary journals. Oh well.)

Is The Disciplinary Focus Of Top Business Journals Causing Serious Problems?

In most jobs, people get to positions of authority across the organization by being good at their specific disciplinary roles. It shouldn’t be terribly surprising, therefore, if someone who was a former top marketer/salesperson/accountant sees business as a primarily marketing/sales/accounting problem. This blinkered outlook makes them not as great at developing other elements of the business mix.

Breaking Free Of The Disciplinary Shackles

The authors give impressive detail on how the various parts of the organization drive growth, which here means top-line, revenue, increases. They argue that achieving success in increasing revenue makes much more of an impact on business than a few cost savings here and there.

One of the features of this book is the detail it goes into on the various levers that can be addressed. There are many tables listing things to do and/or think about. This is the sort of book that leaves you in no doubt the authors have thought about this a lot and talked to a ton of people.

Revenue Operations

What then is revenue operations? The authors say that:

Most of the executives we interviewed described Revenue Operations as a system (or commercial model) for generating more sustainable and scalable business growth.

Diorio and Hummel, 2022, page 27

Putting everything together is vital to success in business. They say that revenue operations is a team sport. Maybe it is not as much fun to watch as most sports (but obviously still much better than cricket). Because it is a team sport getting to a point when everyone is coordinating across disciplines should really help the business.

Read: Stephen Diorio and Chris K. Hummel (2022) Revenue Operations: A New Way to Align Sales & Marketing, Monetize Data, and Ignite Growth, Wiley

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