After 39 years in business, it never ceases to amaze me the way organisations go about defining a strategic direction and then supposedly build the foundation that will get them there. The unfortunate finding has been that once the vision is established, it is rarely utilised as a sanity or consistency “check” against new initiatives or programmes. Are they in alignment with our vision? Will they enhance organizational movement toward the vision? Does staff even know what the vision means or how they can play in? Yet the “vision” should be the ultimate “litmus” test for all that an organization does – operationally or strategically.
Beyond that, we see that most often KBO”s are set separate and apart from any recognition of the vision. Consequently we often find that the KBO’s may or may not support achievement of the vision. The question here simply being, “If they don’t support achievement of the vision, why are we doing it?” Moreover, we often find that organizations set far too many KBO’s – spreading their limited organizational resources too thin in many cases and not making much headway toward their achievement resulting in missing targets and frustration within the organization. Which of these KBO’s are truly critical to achieving the vision? Does anyone really know? But you see we need to know if we are to gain the laser like focus we need to be successful, get traction and move the organization forward. And what about key stakeholder balance? If KBO’s are achieved, what benefits accrue to customers? To suppliers? To channel or trade partners? Or do just the shareholders benefit?
And what about KPI’s? The sad story here is that management often measures those things which are easiest to measure – often poor surrogate measures for what they really should be measuring. As a consequence they really a have limited view of how their organization is truly performing. The reason is that in addition to measuring the wrong things (possibly the wrong way), they are too high a level to be actionable, sensitive to change or useful. To get around this, it is vital that for each KBO, the critical success factors be identified for achieving each one – or at least those that are most important to moving the organization toward that future state which is implied by the vision statement. These CSF’s often relate to people, process, technology or other issues which can be measured effectively. One should determine the systemic ones for all KBO’s (at least those which are most important to achieving the vision) versus those which are unique to a KBO. In addition, this is often a good time to assess the core competencies of the organization and where additional investment, development or acquisition may be required to ensure the CSF’s are achieved.
And where do values or guiding principles fit in? Good question. Most of the time these are just taken for granted, poorly defined (if they are defined at all) and no behaviors are identified which could lead to recognition of role model behavior even if it were exhibited. The fact of the matter is, every organization is on a journey. The question remains as to whether it the journey it wants and is planned or whether it is one which is just serendipitous in nature. Ideally, every organization should be on a journey toward its future state as defined by the vision. Earlier we said sanity checks are needed when new programs or initiatives are undertaken to see if these are helping to keep the organization on course or sending them off on a tangent or down some blind alley. Internalizing the values implies that they must influence behaviors. Behaviors can either enhance or inhibit the journey. Organizations that say one thing through their values but behave in a contrary manner are unlikely to be nearly as successful in achieving the results they are looking for. What about in your organization?
Last, but not least are the internal working relationships within an organization. Too often we have seen that the biggest inhibitor of achieving superior performance and building customer loyalty is that business units, divisions, functional areas, departments just do not work together – they are all vertical stove pipes doing their own thing. Why? Lack of common focus –lack of alignment. Everyone needs to understand how they can and must contribute to the greater good –to the common purpose of achieving the vision. But do they in your organization?
Top line summary statements:
Organizational alignment – really getting it right from top to bottom in your organization. What do we mean? Getting everyone working as “all one team” toward a common purpose. It ensures that the vision, mission, key business objectives, KPI’s and values or guiding principles are all mutually understood and reinforcing from the front office to the front line.
How aligned are your organization vision, mission, key business objectives, KPI’s and values/guiding principles? Do they “link up” in your organization and help promote a common focus and marshal all resources in one common direction? Do you know if achieving your KBO’s will really ensure your mission and vision will be achieved? Which of your KBO’s are most critical and why to achieving your mission and vision? Have you identified the critical success factors for each of your KBO’s? Are these related to people, process, technology or other issues? Do you have KPI’s which link to these critical success factors – otherwise you may be measuring the wrong things. How do or how should your values influence behaviors of your people in a way that better enable achievement of your KBO’s, mission and vision rather act as inhibitors?