Cross-functional Alignment

CLIENT STORY:

“The new products, technologies and processes that we have planned cannot be delivered by heroic solo-runs or corporate silos” the CEO had repeatedly warned.  So, the data putting alignment at 77% was greeted with interest. 

Delivering the strategic agenda – a selection of key projects and priorities signed-off by the Board – would depend on all departments and teams pulling together. 

However, in an organization traditionally organized along rigid functional lines, cross-functional collaboration wouldn’t be easy.

Quickly the CEO’s eyes fixed on the figure of 23% Misalignment.  “Does that mean that one in four people in the organization are not pulling in the same direction as the rest of us?  he asked in rhetorical fashion.   “That is a scary figure!” he added after a pause.  It was clear that alignment was now a leadership priority.

  • Alignment
  • Misalignment

Within days the Senior Leadership Team was assembled to workshop alignment.  ‘Just the top 3 priorities’ repeated the CEO as the attendees took pen in hand.  The task  was clear – each person was to write out their top 3 priorities and there was 10 minutes to do it.

For some the task took just moments, while others were still writing as the CEO called time. The discussion that followed clearly demonstrated what the data analysis had revealed – people were not pulling in the same direction.

Each function head – from operations to finance – had their own set of siloed- priorities, some of which were competing, even conflicting.

Mis-alignment was, for the CEO, the reason why progress on the strategic agenda had been frustratingly slow.  It was reflected in doubts organization-wide about speed (62%), direction (70%) and competitiveness (64%) .

Speed
Direction
Competitiveness

Getting the organization pulling together in pursuit of key strategic priorities was a primary objective.  The process began by re-focusing on the 3 key strategic priorities at the Senior Leadership Team and making those trade-offs and compromises required to maintain a “laser-like focus”.

Progress 

Alignment – as measured by clarity regarding purpose, priorities and results for each of the 3 cross-functional teams / working groups leading a strategic project/priority rose by up to 22% over a period of 6 months..

Confidence

Confidence around the delivery of the top 3 key strategic projects and priorities – rose by up to 17%

‘It really does feel like the entire organization is pulling in the same direction – more than at any time in recent years’.

Chief Executive