For BizOps Pros: 7 Tips on Moving from Hair on Fire to Highly Strategic

hair on fire

Is your company’s BizOps function viewed as strategic to the achievement of revenue goals, or as a tactical program that publishes dashboards and troubleshoots problems with the CRM? Knowing the difference can impact your career trajectory.

On July 18, 2017, Rekener sponsored a panel discussion for BizOps professionals to discuss how to make the shift from the tactical world to the strategic. Titled “From Hair on Fire to Highly Strategic: BizOps in Transition,” the panel featured Emmanuelle Skala, independent SaaS go-to-market consultant and former VP of Sales & Customer Success at DigitalOcean; Andrew Fink, VP of Customer Success at Celect; and Tom Wentworth, CMO at RapidMiner.

Panelists Tom Wentworth, Andrew Fink and Emmanuelle Skala discuss Strategic BizOps with moderator Stephanie Fox of Rekener
Panelists Tom Wentworth, Andrew Fink and Emmanuelle Skala discuss strategic BizOps with moderator Stephanie Fox


Here’s a snapshot of what they shared:

  1. Learn the Entire Business, Starting with the Customer
    A great way to move out of a tactical function is to demonstrate your understanding of what impacts the strategy. Learn about your customers and your products to better understand how and why key workflows have been established. Spend a day or two every month shadowing colleagues in sales, marketing, product and customer success to identify disconnects between what customers need and how the business actually operates.
  2. Support the Business Need, Not the Technology
    Your title might be “Salesforce Admin,” but being too closely aligned with a particular tool or technology just reinforces that tactical perception about what you do. Demonstrate your understanding of your role in contributing to the achievement of revenue goals, not just someone who responds to help requests.
  3. Find a Mentor
    Whether or not your boss really “gets” what you do, you can always benefit from an outside perspective. Find someone who’s made that tactical-to-strategic transition in their own career and check in with them regularly. Ask for candid advice about steps you can take to build awareness of your strategic thinking, and follow it.
  4. Advocate for Yourself
    Being good at what you do can be a double-edged sword, particularly when you’re viewed as so helpful as to be irreplaceable...in your current tactical role. Don’t be shy: showcase your in-depth understanding of the big picture issues with your direct manager and other influential leaders, and ask to work on projects outside your main area of focus.
  5. Boost Your Negotiation Skills
    A tactician agrees; a strategist negotiates. If you find yourself at a disadvantage in discussions involving bargaining and trade-offs, training in negotiating can help, resulting in better outcomes for all.
  6. Ask “Why” ...and Listen for the Answer
    Tactical players understand the mission in granular detail and will work overtime to get it done. Strategists keep asking why until they fully understand the needs, biases and expectations at a high level. Ask “why”, listen closely, and you’ll be part of the discussion instead of receiving an order.
  7. Centralized BizOps is the Way to Go

    When operations teams are distributed throughout the organization, they tend to report up through lines of non-operationally-minded business execs, each with their own bias. When BizOps is an equal member of the senior team, it gains the independence needed to deliver real insights to the organization and the authority to make it happen. Consider whether your organization’s operational structure reflects a strategic view of the overall BizOps function, and whether that means opportunity for you — or not.

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Stephanie Fox

Steph served as Rekener’s Community Manager and CMO. A Rekener co-founder, she was previously Senior Director of Marketing at CCC, a $300M+ recurring revenue business, and served in marketing leadership roles at Vertical, @stake, Informio, DotContent and Meridian. Her first recurring revenue role was as an inside sales rep selling real-time stock pricing subscriptions.

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