Quoting from Vault / CNBC yesterday, “At a recent Conference Board event for marketing executives, Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh gave a controversial presentation in which he opined that innovative and collaborative company culture should trump profits.” Continue reading Precisely My Point!
One of our business partners raised a good question about reaching potential users of alignment services. His observation was that several potential clients had suggested they could handle the challenge of strategic alignment on their own and didn’t see the need for a consultant since it’s “just” a matter of communication. His question was, “How can we help them see the value of using our software and consulting services to solve alignment challenges?”
There are several answers to the question, but there are a couple of critical responses that need to work into the conversation. First, given that over the last fifteen years two major studies confirmed that two thirds of strategic change initiatives in North American businesses fail, why does the potential client believe they’re different? What experience does the client have regarding successful change? Second, given that successful change involves clear and concise communication, clarity of expectations and elimination of assumptions and ambiguity, what technology does the potential client have available to ensure that expectations are accurately captured, communicated, and tracked to completion?
What experience does PDS Group LTD have? We present on our resources page, www.pdsgrp.net/resources.html, more than ten case studies describing the application of our expectations approach to successful strategic change; and we have more than ten thousand documented expectations in our client databases. Our various clients have experienced an increase of $51MM in sales revenue over 19 weeks, improvement in client satisfaction from 4th place to 1st place in one year, successful management transition of a family owned business, and completion of a major construction project on time, within budget and with no legal challenges (first time in fifteen years for the building owner). Our web-based alignment software to which clients may subscribe can not only track individual expectations, but also identify for each expectation the:
- Strategy element or component to which it applies
- Tension or risk associated with each
- Amount of coaching needed for successful execution
- Specific success objectives such as deliverables, timing and budget
- Achievement levels and projected financial impacts
- Start, stop, and coach dates for each
We definitely have experience with successful strategic change, misalignment and conflict resolution. Does the client?
Strategic alignment is not just clear communication; it’s the process of communicating clearly and completely, delegating effectively, tracking communications and related results, and maintaining accountability. It needs to be viewed as a core business competency essential to the success of any organization. However, it’s the rare business school that even mentions it, much less teaches it.
Think about it a moment; when you were building your firm foundation following my early posts on this blog, did you include strategic alignment as a core competency? Were you aware of the need for or even the definition of strategic alignment?
I’m still working on some answers for our business partner, but I hope I’ve given you some essential tips about strategic alignment that cause you to learn more about it and know when to ask for help. As we like to say at PDS, “Change is hard, real change is real hard!” But you’re not in it alone; we have some resources and the bench strength to help. So if you’re struggling to get your team aligned with new strategies or major changes, give us a call.
We’ve been developing your organization’s strategy and now we need to get your people on the same page. It’s called strategic alignment.
An essential part of success in any activity involving more than one person is clarity regarding objectives, and understanding of each person’s role. People centered organizations know that performance is personal before it is organizational. Getting your people aligned is the process of making your strategy and plans personal for everyone in your organization, no matter how large or small that organization is.
So how do you do that? Use the expectations approach to eliminate assumptions and ambiguity. Here are the key success factors:
- Communicate openly with your people.
- Involve them in development of the strategy.
- Tell them what you expect of them and what resources you will make available.
- Ask them what they expect of you and of each other.
- Gain agreement on those expectations.
- Jointly decide the success objectives for each expectation (deliverables, timing, and budget).
- Jointly define rewards and consequences.
- Delegate responsibility, authority, and accountability.
- Hold each other accountable.
- Communicate and celebrate results.
If your people know what is expected of them, and if you do everything in your power to clear away obstacles to their success, you enable them to perform up to their full potential.
What I’ve described sounds simple; in fact, I consider it one of those better business basics, and a matter of common business sense. But it gets complex because of the amount of information involved. In effect, you’re going way beyond the classic job description or position profile, and writing a detailed performance contract between each pair of people who need to establish and maintain a productive working relationship. That includes superiors and subordinates, team mates and, in many cases your people and their clients, customers, and vendors. The more complex the relationship, the more important each set of expectations becomes.
On the positive side though is that when these performance contracts are established and maintained, when they become a part of each person’s normal work routine, they become a great tracking tool. They are the source of task lists, tickler files, and performance appraisals. They are the tools for recruiting and hiring people who are a good match for your organization. They are the supporting documentation for incentive pay programs and improved position profiles. They are the fuel that sustains effective processes. They become essential to the success of critical strategic and tactical change initiatives.
When employed during the development and implementation of your business plan, long range plan, and annual operating plans, the expectations approach helps you build a people centered, servant led, purpose driven organization. For more on this approach to successful change, visit www.pdsgrp.net/alex.html and contact email@example.com.