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Organizational Alignment (also known as Focus)

One of our esteemed colleagues wrote this article about how organizational alignment can empower a company to rapidly adapt to change and at the same time improve growth and profit exponentially: Aligning Talent With Strategy

by Bob Woodcock

Like other dynamic systems, an organization performs best when all its processes, metrics and policies are functioning well, moving towards continuous improvement and aligning with the needs of the market. Organizational alignment means linking the core business functions, processes and behaviours of the people in the enterprise so they work in harmony to deliver results.

While the strategic plan may be established by the senior leadership team the execution of that plan is very much a bottom up exercise. How well the frontline individual contributors in your organization understand and execute on the strategic plan will determine the overall level of success. That puts pressure on your leadership team to not only effectively communicate the message from senior leadership to the “feet in the street” but to provide active and ongoing feedback from their direct reports to senior leadership.

When that feedback includes the element of intuition or interpretation on the part of frontline leadership the degree of misalignment can be significant from one team or business unit to another. The problem for senior leadership is to get a fix on where all of the moving parts within the organization are with respect to the strategic vision they have created.

If you want to find out where you stand you have to be prepared to ask some tough questions of everyone within the organization. Relying on the interpretation or “gut” response of your frontline leaders will provide you with as many different opinions as you have leaders. The trick is to ask the same questions of everyone and provide the level of anonymity that will spark frankness in the responses. A survey engine that contains correlation analysis, automated reports, cross tab analysis, alignment measures by workgroup, performance variation and gap analytics is the means to that end.

An intelligent diagnostics platform should be customizable and designed to allow you to capture the data that is pertinent to your organization. There is no use comparing the performance of your company to the metrics being driven in another company. If your frontline individual contributors are not able to articulate and deliver on your strategic plan you need to find out sooner rather than later. This is the difference between leading and lagging indicators of performance.

George Labovitz in his book The Power Of Alignment puts it this way, “Misaligned companies, like cars out of alignment, can develop serious problems if not corrected quickly. They are hard to steer and don’t respond well to changes in direction.” Alignment gives managers at every level of the organization the ability to:

  • Rapidly deploy a coherent business strategy
  • Be totally customer focused
  • Develop best in class people
  • Continuously improve business processes

All at the same time!