Successful organizations and leaders continually look for ways and areas to improve in order to create a competitive edge. Competing in today's ever-changing, increasingly global marketplace, challenges organizations to make the best use of their resources. To meet this challenge, savvy leaders invest in developing the strategy, people and processes to most effectively meet their goals.
Contrary to popular belief, organizations do not exist to make a profit. Organizations exist to develop loyal customers by providing valuable solutions and positive experiences. Money and profit is the reward for doing this well. The organization expending the least amount of resources to achieve their goals has a distinct advantage. That advantage translates to increased revenues, customer loyalty and profit. What do these successful organizations have in common? Their leaders relentlessly pursue the maximum degree of organizational alignment.
What is Organizational Alignment?
Your car wouldn't get far if all the wheels pointed in different directions! Yet that's how many organizations operate - the wheels (resources including time, employees, activities, etc.) aren't aligned, so the vision is an unattainable destination. Experience shows that the interrelationships between processes and departments are key predictors of overall success. Alignment is when all systems work in concert to create customer value and achieve business results.
Any systems not completely aligned with objectives will have a debilitating impact on results. For example, if Marketing and R&D are both strong, but do not work together, products or services may be developed that no one wants. By the same token, if the strategy calls for employee involvement, but recognition focuses only on individual achievement, any disconnect will have a negative impact on implementation of that strategy.
It makes sense, and is possible, to align every resource directly with your vision and strategic plan to significantly improve results. Organizations that understand and enhance the relationships between their actions and objectives create significant competitive advantage.
Where is Your Organization Out of Alignment?
Is everything in your organization going in the same direction? Are your systems aligned to attract and retain loyal customers? What keeps you from operating at maximum effectiveness? When focus is aligned with desire, you begin to take action toward your goals. Successful leaders create effective systems, organizational discipline, and FOCUS. Consider the following five critical systems. What elements in your organization are working against your strategic intent?
Strategic Planning - Specific goals are not enough. High performing organizations have a systematic process for regular strategic thinking and business planning. They determine where they are going and how to get there. Do you have a plan with clear objectives? How well is it communicated to employees? To what degree, if any, do day-to-day operations mirror your plan?
Structure - The best organizations are structured to make the most of their resources... specifically, their human resources. Leadership insures that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and customers (internal and external) find it easy to do business with them. Does your organizational structure make it easy or difficult to create loyal customers and get the results you want?
Process - Poor processes derail even the best employees. Effective leaders create streamlined processes for absolutely every function from workflow and purchasing to communications and people development. To what degree do your informal and formal procedures help or hinder your ability to accomplish your objectives?
Rewards & Recognition - Are individual behaviors and results in alignment with your objectives? What do you measure and how often? Do you hold yourself and others accountable for the results necessary to meet your business goals?
People - Actions speak louder than words...How evident is your commitment to your employees? Are communications one-way or two-way? How do you value and develop people, including yourself, to get expected results?
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, results depend on Leadership. Constant radical change, uncertainty, new rules and regulations, and increased customer demands are the norm. How you manage and thrive under these conditions depends a great deal upon how well your organization is aligned to meet your objectives.
Can you, will you, do what's necessary to drive toward alignment? Are you and the leaders in your organization willing and able to ask for help to make it happen?
Ask yourself the following questions...Where are you out of alignment? What gaps in your systems inhibit your effectiveness? Which system, if improved, would have the greatest positive impact on your results? Where can you focus to get the best ROI on your change efforts? In any economy, the winners are those who make the best use of their resources. Alignment is not just theory. When applied strategically, it can mean the difference between merely surviving and thriving.
Reprint permission granted by author Allison Darling. of Management Concepts, Inc.