I have a clear memory of my very first potato sack race. It was a beautiful day. I was a terrible failure. And had a great insight.
When I was young my father was a volunteer firefighter in Mamaroneck, New York where each year the firehouse hosted a picnic for all the families. There were kids everywhere, copious amounts of food and – of course – games. As I prepared to enter my first sack race, it all seemed very simple. Put one leg into the scratchy burlap sack along with your partner’s leg, and when the starter gun rings out … run to the finish line. But we neglected one of the most important preparation steps in potato sack racing. We did not communicate in advance about what we would do, how we would do it and when. Off went the gun, and down went we. Again, and again. In the end, I was bruised, frustrated and humiliated and last to the finish line. But at least there was pie.
As it turns out, potato sack racing and business share one important truth: alignment is the key to speed. Without alignment, we are slow at best, and at worst can come to great harm. But with alignment we can accelerate growth, drive successful change and ultimately increase happiness.
There are 3 Ps in aligning for speed.
ALIGNMENT OF PURPOSE
Alignment must start at the top. Your leadership team must first believe in, and rally around an articulated purpose. One that ignites their own personal passions and aligns with their values. And then, the same alignment work must occur at every level of the organization Awareness campaigns, engagement plans and communications strategies should be employed to get you there. You will know it is working when candidates seek you out because your articulated purpose matches their passion, and when employees self-select out because it does not.
ALIGNMENT OF PEOPLE
After you have properly articulated and codified your purpose, you must do the hard work to consider and make tough decisions about talent. Is your organization designed to live your purpose? Do you have the right people with the right strengths in the right places to properly drive your strategy? Your people and talent strategies must align with your purpose and support your strategy and goals.
ALIGNMENT OF PROCESS
Once people are aligned to purpose you will be best positioned to tackle the third element of alignment for speed: process. Are your business plans and operations aligned with your purpose, people and strategies? You might be surprised by how many companies can not answer with a resounding yes! This will be hard work, and you should leverage your team to do it. Take a disciplined and systematic approach to determining how your processes and technology do or do not align with and support your purpose and strategy. If they do not, put together plans to change them or leave them behind.
With your purpose, people and processes aligned, you have unlocked speed. You are ready for the race. And, of course, pie.
This article may be reprinted when the copyright, link to article and author bio are included. ©2015 Storyforge, LLC. Please contact us for inquiries.
Haley Boehning is the Chief Change Officer at Storyforge. Building on 20+ years driving change for Fortune 500 clients, non-profits and start-ups, Haley has developed a pragmatic approach to change through storytelling, developing relevant, consistent and emotionally compelling messages and targeted communications strategies that help brand and culture triumph in times of great change.