I talk to Visionaries and often other Integrators who firmly believe the Integrator needs to be on site full time in order to be effective.
I have come to realize that at the heart of this question is a lack of vision. Yes, you heard me, I am accusing Visionaries and Integrators of having a lack of vision. Visionaries, the brilliant, hundreds of great ideas people can envision things that others can’t; electricity, walking on the moon, flying in outer space, artificial intelligence, things that the average human being said weren’t possible. How is it then that the minds that can dream up things like self-driving cars can’t envision how a remote Integrator could simply infuse the focus, alignment, and execution that will take their business to its next destination?
Visionaries act on things they see in their minds every day, they believe if they can see it it will be true and therein lies the problem. What Integrators do is often a mystery to the Visionary, they can’t see the magic essence that a true Integrator brings to the picture. What they see and can understand is only a small part of what an Integrator does, they see meetings, employee reviews, hiring and firing, organizing, making sure the company has a handbook, all things that they find tedious and want done but don’t want to do themselves or worse in some cases think they are doing already.
What they see are the things that any great COO, GM or Director of Operations can pull off and yes a lot of that needs to be conducted on-site and in person. What they don’t see is the vision that a true Integrator has for conducting, connecting and “integrating” their vision into the business.
The skillful interpretation of the vision and the ability to translate the vision into the actions necessary to make that vision a reality are often invisible to the naked eye. The intuition the Integrator has for aligning the team with the vision and prioritizing what needs to be executed when the ability to know if someone is the right person in the right seat and what needs to be done when in order to achieve the most important goals. Oh, and let’s not forget seeing which goals are important and which are out of sync or a distraction from achieving the vision. These invisible unique abilities are difficult for the Visionaries to see and if they can’t see it then how can it be done? More importantly to the original question is how can it possibly be done when the Integrator isn’t even here?
Here I have to ask the question: If the average human being can’t see how electricity or self-driving cars are possible then why do electricity and self-driving cars exist? If your friends and family can’t imagine how or why you started a business to bring your vision to life, why did you start that business that others can’t see or understand completely?
A fellow Fractional Integrator who like me sometimes works remotely addressed this question of remote Integrators, I liked what he had to say so I will share an excerpt from his article;
Is it necessary for the Integrator to be located full time geographically in the business? Many say that an Integrator can’t possibly be effective when working remotely. But this brings us back to the difference between a COO and an Integrator, they are distinct functions.
As John Pollock so passionately puts it “FUNCTION supersedes proximity” don’t underestimate the value of your Integrator just because they are not front and center or IN a specific location.
Proximity does not matter…”
Having this subject arise again recently prompted me to go back to the post by John Pollock on the Rocket Fuel group discussion. As a Fractional Integrator who often works remotely I find myself engaged in this discussion quite often. Thank you, John, for the clear and passionate way you articulated this, it has stuck with me over time.
While there are certainly circumstances and individual Visionary/Integrator duos that will require them both to be on-site there is much more room for remote VI relationships to create wonderful results together than is frequently believed.
I also read that post by John Pollock on the Rocket Fuel group discussion, he is a visionary who understands and values the unique abilities of a true Integrator, most likely because he found his Integrator and has experienced the essence of what an Integrator brings to the business.
If you are a Visionary who has realized that you need an Integrator to get where you want to go with your product or service get ready for your next big challenge. Unfortunately, great Integrators are rare and in short supply. According to the book Rocket Fuel it is believed that in the small business world there are 4 Visionaries for every solid Integrator in the world.
It has been said that finding an Integrator can feel a lot like finding the mythical Unicorn. Added to that rarity it is also extremely important that you find the Integrator who is the right fit for you and your business. Just like Visionaries not all Integrators are the same and you will need to find someone who can see and understand your vision the way you see it before they will be able to make it a reality.
As a Visionary leader you already know that achieving your business goals is difficult but did you know that according to the Harvard Business Review, only 8% of leaders are good at aligning strategy and execution — and those 8% see staggeringly stronger financial returns. So here is where I ask the question; is eventually arriving at your destination good enough or do you want to get there faster and stronger with enough time and energy left to enjoy the destination? An Integrator has the unique ability to align strategy and execution to get you where you’re going faster and with some hair left when you get there.
Can an Integrator be effective when working remotely? If you can envision it together, it will be true. So the question should really be; Can you envision a way to extract the true value of an Integrator even if they aren’t standing right in front of you?
I can envision it, can you?
SUZANNE LYON revised 3/25/2021