How Can We Align Execution With the Business?

Over the years I have run into several excellent articles about how to align execution with business goals. You set goals, you set a strategy that is an initial road map to the goals, and if people follow the map and apply needed mid-course corrections, the assumption is you’ll reach your destination.

Some articles emphasize the importance of setting goals correctly. Remember the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound)? We’ve all been to that workshop, but so very few of us are applying it. As Martin Cobb so beautifully put it:“We know why projects fail; we know how to prevent their failure – so why do they still fail?” Good tools are very important but we need to make an evolutionary leap from developing tools to using them.

Can you enable your employees to follow a strategy? How can you ensure consistency across different touch points in your organization? If and when the strategy needs to be adjusted, is your organization capable of learning and responding with required agility. Let’s face it, when teams can effectively learn, plan, interact and execute, setting the right goals is executed. Perhaps even more importantly, if people are “programed” correctly, setting the right goals becomes secondary in importance because an effective team will quickly discover goals that are off-track, responding quickly with needed corrections.

What does it take to align efforts with desired results?

The truth is, every team is different, and so the Key Strategies each team needs in order to be aligned with desired results differ from one team to the next. Here are two of the more common pitfalls and the Key Strategies we most commonly use to help teams overcome them:

  • Jumping to a solution before considering the different options: To overcome jumping to conclusions, teams often need to reprogram a default response. Jumping the gun can be a result of a tendency to be creative and innovative when you need to be systematic and methodical (using synthesis thinking mode when you should be using analysis thinking). Some teams just love to innovate, they get excited about new ideas and they want to try them out. This not only leads to haphazard starts, it also makes teams change direction too often and too quickly, making it impossible for efforts to mature.
  • Necessary information resides in silos: This can often be the result of people lacking systemic thinking Key Strategies. It happens when the default thinking patterns of leaders and teams are not taking into account system-wide implications and the need for coordination. As a skill, systemic thinking is just another idea that stays in the classroom. As a new imprint in people’s brains, it prevents silos.

What gets in your team’s way of aligning execution with business goals?

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