Gaining alignment is undoubtedly very hard and complex, especially as you get higher in any organisation it becomes something business leaders seek daily.
Most organizations spend a great amount of time if not their entire lifetime looking to achieve some form of alignment. This can be strategic issues like trying to gain consensus on the way forward to aligning schedules for gatherings. Some of the blockages to gaining alignment are resistance, ownership, being locked into old and out of date thinking, remaining static and staying aligned to old objectives. It is important to recognize these and then work actively on all the points of blockage that are stopping the needed alignment. Once you recognize the blockages and what they are potentially doing to the organization, you can begin to put a plan in place to address and remove them.
Achieving alignment, can provide the much-needed impact to a lot of what the organization does. To make any alignment possible requires a clear set of objectives between everyone to gain the essential alignment. Organizations fail if they don’t have the ability to translate and communicate those objectives throughout the organization.
Most often business goals are clearly translated but known to only executive and senior management, those responsible for their execution always seem to be in the dark, on the other end of the spectrum most organizations would be aware of the customer goals yet lack the ability to link them to business goals.
Let us look at examples of both business and customer goals:
- Increase profit margins
- Capture big market share
- Increase efficiency
- Improve employee training
- Improving customer service
To achieve a more dynamic link it is important to ensure that the organization’s alignment goals are translated through an adaptive framework. To sustain this framework, leadership needs to provide and establish all the required capabilities.
Working within an overarching framework creates a common language, gains the appropriate context, and moves the organization closer to the desired alignment.
STEP 1: PLAN
– the planning stage is crucial as this allows the business to analyze the current problem and conditions. Once the problems have been analyzed from both business and customer perspective, the next step is to define them and establish the organizational alignment objectives. Many times, the process of alignment fails because of lack of objectives, without a set of objectives it is impossible to create a process for achieving the desired goal. It is important for the plan to be explicit from the top of the organisation to guide and frame alignment.
STEP 2: DO
– this stage of the process is about the actual implementation of the plan, my recommendation is to adopt a much agile approach to implementation by testing small changes and gathering data on the change effectiveness.
STEP 3: ACT
– acting is about standardizing the alignment, review and defining the next issues.
STEP 4: CHECK
– the final stage to achieving the dynamic link is to evaluate the data, identify deviations between outcomes and planned objectives.
The above framework can create consistency of purpose that will reduce current blockages around alignment and provide the structure that generates the alignment activities to provide the impact the organization and customers are looking for. A well-designed framework will allow the organization to understand and measure the alignment impact.
This article serves as a proven guide to give a far more structured alignment experience although you might still find the process quite complex. It will certainly move your organization closer to generating positive alignment outcomes.
I’m more than happy to explain the approach taken in the above framework, if interested.
Written by: Mandisa Makubalo
Founder: Unlimited Experiences SA