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Posted: June 11, 2014

Top 10 steps to align your company for high performance

Most leaders don't know how to do this

Bob and Gregg Vanourek

Many organizations today are dysfunctional. They may have good people, attractive products, valuable services, and even smart strategies, but the various aspects of their organizations do not cohere. They have conflicting priorities. Different departments work at cross-purposes. Goals and strategies keep changing, and resource allocation rewards political gamesmanship. These organizations are not aligned, and they pay a painful price for it in the marketplace and in their employee disengagement and attrition.

Unfortunately, in our experience, most leaders do not know how to align an organization. They might work hard to communicate the organization’s values, vision, and goals, but they don’t work systematically to make sure the organization is aligned.

Alignment is a collaborative leadership process that can be learned. It is not rocket science, but it does take discipline, commitment, and follow-up. It is easy to understand and well worth the effort, but it is not a one-time fix.

Alignment is a powerful leadership practice because it ensures focus on the right priorities and engages people who were previously bystanders, unleashing their creativity.

There are 10 steps in aligning an organization for sustained high performance:

1. Purpose (not Mission): Why we are here? What is our inspirational reason for being?
2. Values: What do we value most and how will we behave?
3. Vision: What will it be like when we are achieving our Purpose through our Values?
4. Goals: What are the few overarching Goals for our organization?
5. Strategy: How will we achieve our Goals?
6. People: What types of personnel do we need?
7. Structure: How shall we organize, both formally and informally?
8. Processes: What standards, systems, and policies are necessary to guide the work?
9. Action Plans: Who will do what by when?
10. Communication Loops: What key metrics should we measure and report at regular intervals to ensure transparency and accountability?

These 10 steps of alignment move from the aspirational to the strategic to day-to-day execution. The steps must link together (they must align with each other). The process must be collaborative, drawing on meaningful input from the whole organization, and not imposed by edict from the top.

The process doesn’t necessarily start with the first step. It depends on where the organization is at the time (for example, an organization in crisis cannot afford an off-site retreat to ponder long-term issues). The process should occur at multiple levels: enterprisewide, departmental, team, and individual—cascading down, up, and around the organization. And it must be flexible, facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation, and leaving room for mavericks and their breakthrough ideas.

Alignment has many benefits. It:
• Clarifies the elements for success
• Focuses people, eliminating unessential priorities
• Connects people collaboratively
• Links departments of the organization, bridging silos
• Provides continual feedback for mid-course corrections
• Builds employee buy-in, engagement, and commitment
• Fosters teamwork
• Creates a culture of discipline
• Identifies critical action steps
• Unleashes talent in multiple leaders

Alignment is described in detail in chapter six of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations. For a free copy of our White Paper on Alignment, visit our website, If you wish to discuss the steps of alignment with us, email info@triplecrownleadership.com.

Through alignment, leaders can transform ordinary organizations into extraordinary enterprises with sustained high performance and a joyful workplace.

Core Concept: Collaboratively align your organization to boost your performance dramatically.

Practical Applications
1. Is your organization aligned?
2. Has your organization been aligned collaboratively, or by edict?
3. Why not implement the ten steps of collaborative alignment to boost performance and transform the organization?

Bob and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, current and former Colorado residents, are co-authors of "Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations," a 2013 International Book Awards winner. Bob is the former CEO of five companies and was recently designated as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior 2013. Gregg has co-authored three books and teaches entrepreneurship at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. Web: http://triplecrownleadership.com/ Twitter: @TripleCrownLead

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