How much of your work really makes a difference? How much is about achieving your organisation’s purpose and how much about organisational goals? And are they even the same?
One of the biggest drivers of organisational performance is alignment, an area less talked about than two other “A terms” – agility and adaptability. But I’d argue that in many ways, the key to being a truly agile organisation starts with alignment.
So what do we mean when we talk about organisational alignment? One of my favourite explanations is this one from Jonathan Trevor and Barry Varcoe via Harvard Business Review.
Ultimately it s the way in which we organise ourselves to fulfil our organisational purpose. Are the goals we are working to helping to deliver this, do we have the organisational capability and are our resources organised and supported to achieve these aims?
It also asks us to challenge ourselves about the things that we do that aren’t helpful to this aim. Every act that we do that isn’t aligned to our purpose takes resource and time away from activities that could be.
The meetings that we have that aren’t productive
The processes we create that take disproportionate time versus outcome
The activities that are only self-fulfilling
The vanity projects that we struggle to end
Alignment is a great way of thinking not only about the overall organisational context, but as an individual functional head, or department lead. We can easily look at the work of others and talk about the shortcomings and the lack of necessity, but how about we take the same time to really consider our own work and efforts. What could we stop, start, do better?
Finally, back to the other A word. Agility is best achieved through clear purpose. When we know what and why were trying to achieve something, it helps us to adapt quickly and realign in changing circumstances.
But ultimately, it is exactly that alignment that gets things delivered.