The Dimensions of Alignment
In order to understand the variables that impact alignment, it helps to look at how they interrelate.
The four variables that comprise basic alignment are Customers, Employees, Strategy and Processes. In a well-aligned organization, they have the following characteristics:
Customers -- A clear understanding of market value and differentiation, the identification of customer delight factors and the ability to continuously gather actionable data.
Strategy -- A shared vision with a deployment plan to translate this into action. Clearly defined critical success factors and measurement criteria.
Employees -- The identification, adoption and development of relevant competencies along withe a supportive reward and recognition system.
Processes -- The identification of prioritization of core processes necessary to measure and monitor results within an environment of continuous improvement.
If you have struggled with this, you are not alone.
For years, organizations have relied heavily on traditional financial data to measure their success and, consequently, misinterpreted the voices of their employees and customers.
We help clients measure, track and analyze their stakeholders' opinions by providing vital feedback and guidance on key performance indicators, as well as changing market needs. Because InfoTool provides real time data, it enables business leaders to optimize their organizations' strengths, anticipate problems and leverage market opportunities.
Alignment can be thought of as both a noun and a verb; a state of being and a set of actions. As a state of being, alignment refers to the integration of key systems and processes, and responses to changes in the external environment. But no organization can stay in a state of alignment for long, since almost every business lives in an environment of constant change.
We think the real power of alignment comes when we view it as a set of actions; as a verb. These actions represent the new management competence, a necessary skill set that will enable managers to:
- Connect their employees' behavior to the mission of the company, turning intentions into actions
- Link teams and processes to the changing needs of customers
- Shape business strategy with real-time information from customers
- Create a culture in which these elements all work together seamlessly
Alignment relies on two essential dimensions: vertical and horizontal. The vertical dimension is about the organization's strategy, and transforming the strategy into meaningful work. The horizontal dimension involves the business processes that create customer value and competitive differentiation.
Horizontal alignment is enhanced to the extent that each link in the chain anticipates the final customer's requirements and is empowered to ensure they are met.
Vertical alignment is about the rapid deployment of business strategy that is manifested in the actions of employees working in different parts of the organization. When vertical alignment is reached, employees understand organization-wide goals and their role in achieving them. And they can answer these three key questions:What is the strategy of this organization?What do you do?How does what you do support the strategy?
It is at the intersection of these two axes that Culture and Leadership will have the maximum impact on the organization, whether for good or for evil. It is here that the communication, training and feedback within the organization will support total alignment initiatives.
When the four elements of alignment are simultaneously connected with each other, each element is supported and strengthened by the others. The full power of alignment is unleashed and great things begin to happen. The organization acquires resilience and agility. It moves and adapts with catlike speed and when it hits a wall, it can pick itself up and move on.
Of course, it is not quite this simple. The four dimensions are the basic elements of alignment. There are additional variables at work, and overall alignment needs to be expressed as a factor of the following forces:
- Basic Alignment (people, process, customers, strategy)
- Environment (regulation, technology competition and economics)
- The links that join them
It is this more complex, real-world set of relationships that AlignComm can help you understand, measure and, ultimately, manage.
The Power of Alignment
Learn about the power of an aligned organization and the way we help executives benefit from previously invisible information about the deeper workings of their organization.