Organizational Alignment

As much as I believe in the concept of organizational alignment, I always find it a bit dismaying that so few other people seem to be blogging about it.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this post from a Deloitte Consulting blog called “Corporate Performance Management – The Next Step”. 

A primary goal of performance management is getting people within the organization to do what they’re supposed to do. A number of “soft” techniques can help achieve this goal. Strong executive sponsorship. Communication. Training. Change management. But in the end, the key to success is aligning all aspects of performance management with things people can understand and personally control. Alignment is a simple concept, but making it work is the most challenging and enigmatic aspect of CPM. 

Wow.  That’s dead on.  I might only add that the secret to getting alignment is to motivate, not mandate.  No one wants to be forced to do anything. 

The post – and the rest of their blog – is filled with other performance management truths. One of my favorites is their recognition that performance management can sometimes meet with resistance: 

Integrating the components of performance management isn’t easy. It requires collaboration, patience, and commitment across the entire organization. When CPM is first introduced, operating units and divisions often resist — viewing integration as a threat to their decision-making independence. But the vast majority eventually discover that CPM is an enabling process that helps improve their decision-making — laying the groundwork for the organization’s future success. 

Here again, motivational techniques work better than mandates. 

I don’t know the authors but maybe I’ll look them up the next time I’m in The Netherlands.

3 Responses to Organizational Alignment

  1. Paul van Erk says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I was looking at our blog statistics and I saw some referrals from your site to our blog. I completely share your opinion on the concept of organizational alignment and the fact a lot of companies don’t have an eye for it. From my experience I know many companies want to do ‘something’ with CPM without understanding the full scope. That’s the most time-consuming part in a CPM-project. Often companies purchase a CPM-tool and think, we will just hire some consultants to do the implementation and we are ready for the future. However, in that case you miss the essence of performance management. You can measure your performance, but performance management is not just looking back. You should look forward and set the right incentives for your personnel. Not only focus on the How but also on the Why. I will post a little bit more on this subject on our blog. Next time I will discuss our lessons learned with respect to CPM-projects.

    Hope to speak to you again in the future!

    Oh yeah, and of course you are more than welcome to visit us in The Netherlands!

    Paul van Erk
    http://cpm-view.blogspot.com

  2. Jonathan says:

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for the comment. For too many people, performance management = software but they completely miss the fact that PM is more of a journey than anythign else. Metrics are one piece of a the puzzle, of course, but metrics without goals (“what”) and without initiatives (“how”) are pretty useless.

    Looking forward to the continued conversations.

  3. Ken Meyer says:

    I agree with both comments. Alignment is the next ‘big’ thing we all will be working on.

    Our thoughts on this topic:

    Alignment is an elusive concept not well explained in traditional management texts. In our workshops, through theory and practical application, we teach new tools to achieve and measure organizational alignment and assure that your organization is in the process of becoming truly aligned to your customers’ constantly changing needs. The measurements are simple, intuitive and quantitative. For more information, go to http://www.PullThinking.com and http://www.OrganizationalAlignmentWorkshop.com.

    Kenneth Meyer is President and CEO of Alignment at Work, LLC, Atlanta, GA and author of the book Pull Thinking®: Harness the Power of Pull to Fuel Growth and Ignite Performance by Aligning People, Culture and Purpose. He may be contacted at Ken@PullThinking.com.

    Ownership and buy-in are rooted in collaboration, participation and communication excellence. One happy product of alignment is seeing people wanting to participate. They are pulling together. When people pull together, they are becoming aligned. That is what you get with what is called Pull Thinking® – you learn how to apply the distinction between Pull and Push and how Pull is related – not only in systems and economic theories – but most importantly, in how we think. The old command and control method of managing tries to push alignment, which actually results in misalignment with people tending to resist full participation. Pulling alignment works; pushing causes misalignment.

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