Strategic Alignment: Move in the Right Direction
We’ve all worked in an organization that feels chaotic. Here’s a common scenario: You’re happily performing a process, doing some work you’ve done dozens of times before, only to find out that the one sub-process you depend on has changed, and not for the better. Another common horror story involves two individuals both improving the same process but not knowing it until they end up playing a sort of process tug-of-war, which usually ends in a standstill resolved by the manager who wields the most influence. When these scenarios happen in your organization, they are more than an annoyance; they directly impact your customers and bottom-line performance.
Ensuring appropriate strategic alignment is challenging and requires an investment in the oversight and centralization of improvement projects. Knowing which process improvements are happening is one thing, but making sure that those improvements are affecting strategically important processes is another. If you have redundant or conflicting improvement projects happening under separate functions, chaos can ensue. It only gets worse when your process team doesn’t know or understand the organizational strategy and then wastes valuable resources improving something with little value. Costs can quickly mount and outweigh any potential benefit. Getting control over the situation is challenging but not impossible.
Successful organizations manage their process efforts across functional lines and tie the performance to their organizational strategy through regular planning and measurement. The flow is typically bi-directional. Goals and objectives stream down from the strategy team through a process oversight group and on to the workers managing and performing the processes within the business. This helps everyone in the organization know where improvement efforts can best support organizational strategies. And in parallel, improvement ideas flow up from the people performing and managing processes to process managers and owners so that the highest value initiatives can be selected and supported with appropriate budget, resources, and oversight.
Actively aligning process efforts with business strategy is a win-win for your organization, reducing value-sapping random acts of improvement and promoting initiatives that will provide the biggest bang for the buck. Proper strategic alignment influences the rest of APQC’s Seven Tenets of Process Management, especially governance and process improvement.