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Lessons Learned in Aligning an Organization. Two Way Communication is Key – Part 2

Part 2: Attacking the problem

By Denise A. Harrison, Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert Denise Harrison

Strategic Planning Expert
Denise Harrison

Strategic Alignment: Two Way Communication
The next year we took the following approach: initially we followed the same process set out in previous years, the senior management team continued to set the corporate strategy and select the key company-wide objectives. Once again, I spoke to the whole company about the three year strategy and the key objectives for the next year, but rather than ending the meeting with the usual question and answer period I ended the meeting with a challenge to each department:

Next month we will hold a company meeting for each department to present what it intends to do in the upcoming year in order to support the company strategy and move the company forward.

There was a flourish of activity in all departments preparing for the next meeting, each department looked forward to its chance to show its importance to the rest of the company. Each department assessed the following questions to evaluate their key objectives for moving the company forward:

  1. What are we doing that moves the company forward?
  2. Is there anything we are not doing that we should be doing?
  3. Is there anything that needs more emphasis?
  4. Is there anything that we should stop doing?
  5. What is required from us from other departments in order for them to accomplish what they need to do to move the company forward?
  6. How can we enlist the support from other departments to help us achieve our goals and objectives?

Each department selected a spokesperson to present its contributions to the company’s future success and proudly present what its contributions would be for the next year. The meeting ended with an ice cream party celebration.

After the departmental presentations, do you think the associates now knew what the company strategy was? (Yes!) Do you think that each associate now knew what he or she had to do to move the company forward? (Yes!) Do you think that they came up with ideas in each department that were far better than anything the senior management team could have directed it to do? (You betcha!)

Moral: Communication has to be a two way street.

When all we did was present the strategy to the rest of the company, we had not asked the associates to think about the strategy from their perspective — what did it meant to their job? What did it mean to their department on a day-to-day basis? By asking each department to present what they had to contribute to move the company forward each department and each individual had the opportunity to think about the company strategy in the context of what they did on a regular basis.

By allowing the departments to think on a more strategic level, each department became focused on the key activities of the organization — many departments streamlined their activities as a result of this process.

Asking each department to make a presentation forced each group to think through clear objectives that could be presented so that others in the company would understand. This allowed other departments to better understand each other’s role in the company’s success and allowed for more coordination moving forward.

Next: Developing the solution – read in our next blog article.

Developing a strategy will help your company optimize its future. Ensuring that the whole company is aligned with corporate strategy will help you achieve corporate goals and objectives in a shorter time frame.

If you are interested in taking your strategic planning to the next level, please listen to our webinar:  Why Isn’t My Strategic Plan Working or contact Denise Harrison; 910-763-5194, harrison@cssp.com .

Denise Harrison is a senior consultant for the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at  harrison@cssp.com.

© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.