The Journey toward Cultural Alignment
The Alignment Assessment yields an objective measure of your organization’s current state of alignment, along with priorities for improvement. Planning these improvements, and actually implementing them, is the role of your Alignment Program.
An effective Alignment Program:
- Focuses on improvement priorities identified in the Alignment Assessment leadership workshop
- Leverages the P Principles™ framework and the Alignment Maturity Model™ as a guide
- Takes a stepwise approach to growing Alignment Maturity
- Engages key stakeholders to build consensus and enable change
- Incorporates experimentation, coaching, and validated learning approaches
- Infuses an alignment focus into operational activities and other improvement initiatives
A Stepwise Approach to Growing Alignment Maturity
The Alignment Maturity Model™ provides descriptions of each maturity level, along each dimension of the P Principles™ framework. It also suggests approaches for advancing maturity from each level, to the next. The most effective programs aim for 1-2 levels of improvement per step. This rate of alignment transformation is attainable and sustainable, in the context of other necessary operational and strategic priorities (e.g. “keeping the lights on,” achieving growth and profit goals, introducing new products and services).
Improving alignment is less about “doing different things,” and is more about “doing things differently.” Thus, an effective program aims to incrementally transform how the organization approaches existing activities:
- Developing, maintaining and communicating vision and strategy
- Establishing priorities and setting goals
- Developing, maintaining and implementing product and services plans
- Planning and managing operations
- Managing, leading and coaching people
- Developing and optimizing processes
- Measuring and rewarding performance
Effective Alignment Programs do not create lots of new initiatives, projects and extra work around these activities. Rather, they introduce small, high-leverage improvements to “nudge” existing activities toward an improved state of alignment, with minimum added effort. The right “small” changes can yield significant improvements in alignment.
A Facilitative Approach is the Key to Success
How do we identify and implement these high-leverage improvements? By building empowered improvement teams, and utilizing a facilitated workshop approach to enable these teams to find and take ownership of their own solutions.
All seasoned leaders have experience with traditional consultants who study your organization and recommend improvements. It’s rare that these recommendations yield the desired results. Why? Because transformation can’t be “inflicted” on an organization by a consultant or leadership… organizational transformation must be driven from within, by engaged stakeholders who believe in, and take ownership of the improvements.
Alignment Associates applies facilitation best practices to build and enable improvement teams. What does an effective program look like?
- Team workshops to develop consensus on current state, desired future state, gaps, priorities and action plans for each improvement priority
- Additional working sessions to develop practices, processes and standards recommendations
- Focus on key “fulcrum points” that yield maximum impact with minimum effort / cost / disruption
- Cross-functional teams bring a holistic perspective
- Team members build action and accountability plans, and hold one another accountable
- Pilot tests of improved practices and processes, where appropriate
- Learn and improve through experimentation, inspection, and reflection
- Leadership team briefings throughout the process to maintain alignment
- Communication and education sessions for stakeholders on newly developed practices and processes
- Training and coaching on alignment principles for managers and leaders, to develop key skills
By engaging and facilitating teams in this manner, stakeholders develop a shared understanding of challenges and constraints across the organization, build consensus on improvements, and remove barriers to success. Plans are documented and communicated via a future state Alignment Blueprint™.
Developing a Culture of Alignment
While Alignment Associates’ facilitative approach yields rapid improvements, the larger goal is to infuse aligned thinking and behavior, and an approach to continuous improvement, throughout the organization. Periodically refreshing the Alignment Assessment enables leadership to measure improvements and communicate them to the organization. Incorporating an ongoing training and coaching program can keep alignment at front-of-mind for leaders throughout the organization.