So, we’ve spoken in the past about the relationship between the integrator and the visionary. One guarantees the teamwork that makes the dream work. Seeing as they’re the ultra-hold Gorilla glue that keeps the company together, what sort of accountability does the role of integrator entail?
In today’s blog, we’re discussing the Top 5 Accountabilities Of An Integrator.
So, the truth is, proper “salt of the Earth” integrators are so hard to come by that they may as well be a mythical beast. A list of pre-requisites, desired histories, qualifications and qualities so long that finding a candidate to tick them all off is a recruiter’s worst nightmare.
There’s actually a term for this, “The Purple Squirrel”. It’s pretty simple – how many purple squirrels have you seen in your life? Probably a few more than that recruiter has seen genuine integrators.
In Gino Wickman and Mark Winters’ game changing book “Rocket Fuel”, a generous estimation is made. Only 2% of the population have the right mix of skills, experience and personality to become an integrator. In reality this number is overstated, and it’s likely that less than 1% of us have what it takes to reign in that visionary and steer the ship away from the rocks and into much calmer waters.
We know what kind of person we’re looking for, but here’s a little more about what they can actually do for your business once you get through the recruitment process and actually hold that signed employment contract in your hand.
1 – THE GLUE:
As much as advancements in technology are a driving factor towards the constant evolution of how we do business, and the speed and efficiency of how companies operate as a whole, there will still be the need for that “old head” to hold it all together. Branching out into other markets demands greater differentiation of products and services, as well as how they’re delivered to the customer. The other side of the coin is that this drive increases the need for strict co-ordination, and as a result, the need for a good operator.
A gun integrator is a must have for any business preparing to scale up, period. With the company going in all sorts of new directions, you need someone to be that super strong glue we were alluding to earlier. But what does that all mean?
Differentiation and integration are actually two opposing forces. Often times weighting one quite heavily will be at the expense of the other. The real balancing act is achieving both high differentiation and high integration simultaneously, with the main variable in the equation being the strength of the integrator, what processes and systems they put into place, and how effective they are to aid in the day to day running of the business.
Ultimately, it’s the integrator that is accountable for the success or failure of the system.
2 – THE BEATER OF THE DRUM:
Tempo, tempo, tempo. Speed is a big thing in business. Sit on your hands too long, and you’ll watch your competitors pass you by at the speed of light and leave you choking on their dust. Press the go button too soon, and the uncontrollable and inevitably unsustainable growth will leave you bleeding funds from your coffers until you run them dry, leaving the business in a state it may not recover from. But who is the one keeping the band in time? Marching to the beat of their drum?
It's the integrator’s responsibility to set the pace, to play a beat that everyone can march to. As we alluded to, the fine line between scaling up and having the resources, systems and processes in place to do so is razor thin. Getting everyone in the company up to speed and proficient in the new or improved way to do things takes time, and the temptation is real for the visionary to push forward with blinkers on in order to reach their goals and ambitions for the company.
The integrator has to know when to apply the brakes, and when to hit the accelerator. As a result, the success or demise of a company as a whole is a crown that weighs heavily on their head.
3 – THE TIE BREAKER:
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? The “omnipotence paradox” may just be a philosophical thought experiment aimed at evolving the mind to think outside the box and employ a bit of problem solving – but then again, spend a little time in an intense meeting between heads of department and other upper management and you’ll get a new appreciation for the age-old question.
The answer is quite a simple one – we need a tie breaker. When the scores are tied, when the votes are tallied and end up in a stalemate, there needs to be one person in a company that can weigh both sides of the argument and made a judgement call on what the next steps should be. Yes, you guessed it, that’s the integrator.
There’s a reason they have their finger in every pie, a reason why experience in multiple disciplines and departments in a must have on the integrator CV. It’s this huge wealth of knowledge that will be the ultimate tool in the integrator’s arsenal when it comes to having the final say on a course of action. Just as the heads of department have a duty to present their case and reasons why a company should do this rather than that, it’s the integrator’s job to live or die by their ultimate decision.
4 – THE BUCK STOPPER:
This is perhaps one of the defining facets in the integrator role. Blame is oftentimes shifted upwards, and the integrator is where the passing of the buck stops. When there are problems in a company, it’s the integrator who needs to identify them early, and have resolutions ready to be put in place to mitigate any negatives effects these issues may have on the company as a whole.
The integrator has line authority over all departments and sectors of the company, they’re the overseer, and contrary to the laws of physics – in the business world, problems roll uphill. There are going to be bumps in the road on the journey towards business success, but the integrator has to be accountable for identifying them once they’re brought to their attention, nipping them in the bud early, and standing by the decisions they make along the way.
5 – THE STEADY HAND:
In the same vein, an integrator has to be the steady hand of the company. Business acumen, past experience, and knowledge base will only go so far if the integrator has poor interpersonal skills and can’t communicate in a constructive manner to employees sitting below them in the org chart. Or above them with the CEO either for that matter.
Passion and conflict are two sides of the same coin. One person’s view on how to achieve a goal or manage their department will differ from another person’s way of doing things, and though this diversity is ultimately good for improving how a business runs, it can sometimes end in tears.
Interdepartmental conflict occurs often. It may be a case of one department head stepping out of their lane and meddling in the operations of their fellow manager. Other times it can be one department feeling that their being neglected in both direction and resources, that another department is somehow being favoured over the rest. Then again it can be something as simple as an ego trip, a clash of personalities.
The integrator must be the steady hand that steers the ship, and remain impartial and unbiased when issuing instructions to those they’re in charge of. How good the integrator is at this mediator type role will definitely impact how a business functions and grows. Any serious problems that have a negative effect on the company will have the CEO asking questions of their go-to, their second in command.
Is it just us, or does this all seem a little bit too much for one person to have on their plate? After all, there are only so many working hours in the day. The reason why the screening process for integrators is so vigorous and why they’re in such high demand is that it takes a special, and rare, type of person to perform in the role. Both understanding and discipline are required when the integrator has such a mountain of responsibility and accountability.
That’s all we have time for in today’s blog, “Top 5 Accountabilities of an Integrator”.
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