"Our intention was to have a very successful summer sale.... That expectation was wrong." So said Dieter Zetsche, former chairman of DaimlerChrysler, the day he reported an expected 3rd quarter loss of $1.5 billion. You have to sometimes wonder how the executive suits can continue to hit their heads against the wall when trying to predict the future for their company.

Could it be they're talking to the wrong people?

One of the first things my colleague and co-author Holly Buchanan does when holding a meeting with a new client is to send the marketing department to the back of the room and move the customer service team to the front row. Who knows better about what's going on in the trenches -- the marketing MBAs or the folks who are in touch with the product and customer each and every day?

I was fascinated by a survey I saw a while back, which presented an eye-opener on how much management actually ignores lower grade workers. The percentage of employees who say their bosses "often" ask them for advice:

- High school diploma or less (24 percent)
- College graduate (54 percent)
- Earning less than $25,000 annually (30 percent)
- Earning more than $75,000 annually (52 percent)

In your business, are you plugged in to the right people? Are you relying on dry data and "Hail Mary" marketing campaigns from your executive team without the input from those who have a hands-on relationship with your product and customers?

Perhaps your next company retreat needs to focus on those who can provide the greatest insight and offer solutions for small miracles. What do you think?