It’s time to chart the path forward. Where is your CEO?

Article Chris Erickson 6m read

If your company is at an inflection point or searching for a way to rediscover that missing mojo, reexamining the foundational aspect of your business can get you moving in the right direction.

But you can’t do that without your CEO. They need to see the value of their participation from the outset right through to implementation.

When your CEO is part of the process, they recognize their role, provide company-wide goals and accountability, and are invested in a successful outcome. 

Developing foundational frameworks is a powerful process if your company is in the midst of change or has lost a step or two. The exercise provides a comprehensive strategy that charts the course for your company’s future. It requires a clear articulation of your culture, purpose, and behaviors. It requires detailed discovery, strategic visioning, financial benchmarking, market research, and proprietary data.

But without your CEO’s involvement, the process is pointless. Your CEO needs to be fully committed and engaged from beginning to end. Let’s examine why CEO involvement is mandatory for any company hiring an outside agency to help find its way forward.

Foundational frameworks help your company find its footing.

Any company can lose its touch, experience changes in leadership, or shift its direction. And now the scramble for strategic clarity is on. A rebrand? A campaign? A tweak? A total reboot?

It could be all of the above. It could be none of the above. The fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. And until you do, you shouldn’t do anything. It’s time to firm up the foundation.

That’s where foundational frameworks enter the picture. They uncover what’s known (and unknown), clarify objectives, and chart a path toward them. The process involves a detailed discovery phase followed by intensive internal interviews and information gathering; market research and competitive intelligence; brand auditing, and financial forecasting.

Each of these areas requires the full backing and involvement of your CEO. Their input and insights help to steer the process along the way. And at the end of the engagement, they will be fully prepared to implement your directional strategy across your org.

If your CEO isn’t on board, your vision isn’t real.

Getting a CEO to participate in developing your company’s foundational frameworks isn’t just about keeping up appearances. Their active participation is critical no matter what solution you land on. Imagine anyone else in your organization acting as a stand-in for your CEO. Who would that be? What would they know? Can they rally the troops? Lead them in this new direction?

The fact is nobody can pinch-hit for your CEO. The engineering department is going to see things with an engineer’s eyes. Those in marketing will know the business through the marketer’s eyes. Operations will limit their vision to how it impacts operations. Only your CEO has that 10,000-foot view of how your foundational strategy will play out for the entire organization. They alone can bring this knowledge to the table to make the most of this process.

With the CEO bought in, your company’s vision will be wide-reaching enough to create tangible results.

Your CEO’s responsibilities can’t be outsourced.

Agency engagements can invite some preconceived notions: hire them, let them do their thing, and everything will work out. But when it involves your company’s very future and something as critical as your foundational strategy, it isn’t something you can throw money at.

Five signs of enthusiastic CEO buy-in

Here’s how to know whether your CEO is interested, engaged, and invested in laying a bombproof strategic foundation. Along the way, we’ll share our perspective and tips to help you drive the process forward.

Here’s why your CEO needs to be at the helm of this engagement the whole time.

  1. Your agency engagement will be more effective.

    1. Not having your CEO at the table means you’ll have long, wasteful meetings that don’t lead anywhere. But when your CEO is involved and engaged, everybody’s time is wisely spent. 

    2. You can probably imagine how inefficient it would be to keep your CEO updated about meetings they didn’t attend. Nuance is inevitably lost in translation in both directions.

    3. But, if your CEO actively participates, they directly hear the agency’s outside perspective. And because the agency isn’t part of the company’s power structure, it can push back against the CEO more than its team.

    4. The upshot? When a CEO actively participates, their assumptions and beliefs can be openly challenged, pressure-tested, or confirmed by an outside perspective. They discover truths about themselves and their organization they otherwise wouldn’t.

  2. The outcome will be more valuable.

    1. Your CEO is the most important stakeholder, and it's useless if they don’t buy into the process. Others within your company won’t be invested if your CEO isn’t.

    2. When they are an enthusiastic participant, the CEO is leading by example. This is an opportunity to show the team how important the work is and how committed they are to seeing it through and implementing it.

    3. Establishing a universal, agreed-upon foundational strategy requires tough decisions that only the CEO can make and endorse. You may have issues your company has been struggling with for years. This process provides for debate, but the tie-breaking decision needs to be made at the CEO level.

  3. Because, ultimately, it’s their job.

    1. Foundational frameworks directly align with a CEO’s most critical functions: strategic visioning; hiring, grooming, and managing your leadership team; and defining company culture.

    2. When your CEO leads the process, it tells your team that foundational frameworks apply company-wide. They aren’t just for marketing or sales departments.

    3. CEO involvement promotes a sense of ownership. They aren’t simply approving a campaign their team developed or an agency whipped up. They are taking ownership of the direction of the business. The ultimate measure of successful frameworks is whether they are a) correct and b) implemented. Both require the CEO for that to happen.

Behind every successful engagement is an engaged CEO.

Getting your CEO involved in any project requires time and energy commitment. But when it comes to foundational frameworks, the risk is too high for them not to commit to the process entirely. When you’re at an inflection point, the very future of your company is in flux, and foundational frameworks are a potent antidote to uncertainty and unease, providing all corners of your organization with a clear and compelling path forward. Your CEO needs to be at the center of the undertaking from beginning to end.

If you want to hear more about how Parliament works closely with CEOs to build robust, actionable foundational frameworks, let’s talk .