Everyone understands that an aligned business is a good business, but just what is organizational alignment? Everything from goal-setting to organization to management needs to be aligned to one company vision in order for the business to succeed. Problems emerge when managers try to focus too much energy on one thing in the company instead of how they all fit together.
Let’s look at Google. Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” What does it take to ensure that that happens?
It requires constant changes to servers and algorithms based on active feedback provided by user information. Delivering relevant information to users almost instantly requires constant maintenance. To streamline the process, Google breaks down its main goal into four categories and makes sure they all align with each other.
- Universally Accessible
Organizational alignment should resemble something like this. You need to make sure you connect your business’s purpose to its business strategy.
Making sure you highlight your business purpose is key. Those who do are more efficient and profitable and often have a better relationship with customers. Despite this, finding a business purpose is not the easiest because there is no specific practice for doing so. However, doing so is key to organizational alignment.
Your business purpose is your reason to exist in a meaningful way. This covers financial progress, making daily decisions, and unifying your employees.
Organizational capability deals with anything that drives business results. These organizational capabilities can fall into popular management and goal-setting strategies such as facilitating lean operations and using OKRs.
Resource management is how businesses manage resources effectively. These resources can be actual things like materials and money or intangible like people and time.
Organizational alignment should take into account the planning of resource distribution. Managing resources involves both budgets and schedules and it's good to plan for these well in advance.
This applies mainly to project management, but you should note that these resources impact even company-level goals.
When taking into account alignment and resources, you have to take into account the following:
- Technology: What tech is required for the business to succeed and should any new tech be bought?
- Equipment: Do you have all the necessary tools to get jobs done?
- Physical Space: Do you have enough space and is the space used effectively for managing equipment and people?
- Staffing: Do you have the right people doing the right jobs? Do you need to hire anyone?
- Finance: Can you afford new things like training staff or a new tool?
Organizational Alignment and OKRs
OKRs are built for organizational alignment by connecting Key Results to Objectives. This covers all of the previous categories into one methodology to simplify the process for everyone. However, like organizational alignment in general, aligning OKRs is not an easy process and requires constant maintenance and reevaluation in order to work.
If your goal is to unify your company at every level, everyone needs to understand what’s going on, what the business goals are, and how everyone can contribute.
There are 2 key ways to align your company based on OKRs: top-down and bottom-up. Each come with their own strengths and weaknesses. Top-down is when Objectives are assigned by high-level leaders and executives downwards. On the other hand, bottom-up is where employees are asked to come up with their own suggestions for the next quarter’s activities.