The Maverick Pricing Director

By Colin Carroll
July 31, 2013

“There has got to be a better way.”

8 words.

Doesn’t all innovation start with these 8 words? Driven by dissatisfaction with current processes, tools, roles, or results, the innovator begins a process of generating and evaluating alternatives for improvement. From Michael Dell to Coco Chanel to Seth Godin to Steve Jobs to Hugh Hefner to Bill Gates, all innovation begins with this conviction that there is a better way.

Enter the Maverick Pricing Director. The Maverick Pricing Director begins each day with the conviction that there is a way to improve both pricing effectiveness and pricing process efficiency in her company or business unit. Understanding that her role is uniquely positioned to help deliver quantifiable margin ($ and %) results in support of the company strategy, the Maverick Pricing Director begins to chart a path to improving the organization’s pricing competency.

Maverick, you say? Indeed, “Maverick” might imply a deviant, a lone ranger, or someone more focused on personal objectives than on company success. Not so. When applied to Pricing Directors, Maverick instead implies an individual of independent thinking, an observer who resists following the cow path, an analyst who is not satisfied with either current results or processes. In “How to Harness the Talent of Your Maverick,” Judith Germain defines a Maverick as “willfully independent” and not afraid to change the status quo. Thus, when harnessed, the Maverick Pricing Director is a valuable internal resource focused on positive change. With the conviction that there has got to be a better way, the Maverick Pricing Director begins to lay the groundwork for changing the process and requests to be measured on the results.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

Pricing is a complex, cross-functional process. To accomplish her aims, the Maverick Pricing Director demonstrates organizational agility, working across staff groups, functions, regions, and levels of the organizational hierarchy, influencing those who do not report to her, winning friends, tactfully addressing turf issues and helping to build consensus around a new vision. This vision, her articulation of a “to be” state, covers new processes and new tools, a modified organizational design with new roles and responsibilities, and is supported by a compelling business case. With a vision of the future translated into practical application in the near term, the Maverick Pricing Director is artfully crafting a platform and environment for change. She is charting a path for evolving the pricing competency in her organization.

But, where should she begin? How best to start? The Maverick is focused on results, and understands that not all organizations or colleagues can swallow too much change too quickly, so she does not advocate a scorched earth approach. Indeed, the Maverick Pricing Director rarely has a role capable of immediately affecting wholesale change. Instead, the Maverick Pricing Director, with keen insight into the organization arising from years of facilitating broken processes, focused on what is feasible for her organization in the near term. There is indeed a better way. The definition of better, the nature of the improvement, must consider what is realistic in her organization in the near term. Reasonable and realistic, balancing a drive for results with political savvy, the Maverick Pricing Director develops a long-term vision and a short-term plan.

Are you a Maverick? Do you have one in your organization?

  • director , innovation , maverick , pricing

    Colin Carroll

    Colin Carroll has over 15 years of experience helping manufacturers implement and automate price and margin management best practices. Colin is currently a Pricing Expert at McKinsey & Co. Prior to joining McKinsey, Colin was the VP of Business Consulting at Vendavo. Before joining Vendavo, Colin was a pricing strategy consultant in addition to eight years at International Paper Company in a series of sales and marketing management positions, including Marketing Manager, Catalog Segment and Marketing Director, Publication Papers. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Colin has an MSE in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan and a BA in Mathematics from Binghamton University.