Implementing Alignment

So, the last few weeks I have spent time focusing on Alignment as a topic in different aspects of your business. Essentially this is one of the core organizing principles in any business. I want to wrap up this topic giving you a view to the work involved in getting a mid-sized company aligned. This goes back to the completion of our 2001 Business Plan at AFC. We were about 1,000 employees and around $350M in revenue at that time. The Business Plan itself took several months to go through. We were in a fundamental rethink of the business. We were doing fine, but much of the industry was collapsing around us. We took the time to step back and see what was going to happen. This strategic exercise changed the way we thought about many aspects of our business and ultimately led to our FiOS win at Verizon.

The problem was how to push all that change into 1,000 people to make sure that we were all pulling the same way. We announced the results of the planning process to the entire company. Then we brought the layer of management just below the C level in to run different task forces within the company. These task forces had an Executive sponsor but were run by a Director or a Vice President. Each of them had a specific focus and a broad based team. The company and each team created dashboards that we read out at a quarterly review. There were about 10 of these teams and a quarterly review took a whole day.

Needless to say this was an extensive commitment. It was imperfect in implementation like all things. But we got it mostly right and the process made everyone buy into the plan. That alone was worth it. It makes it easy if everyone is pulling in the same direction.

There was a singular Executive who did not agree with this process and went his own way. Just one person like that was a weight in the room. He bent the rules to get what he wanted and it hurt the cohesion of the team and the process. Eventually he was let go and things improved dramatically. His goal was not the success of the plan but instead the growth of his own influence. That kind of person exists in almost every organization of any size. Senior managers have to be looking out for them and root them out of organizations. They simply don't work in teams and that is what alignment is all about.

I personally tried to model the opposite behavior. I tell people that much of my job at the time was what I called "Executive without Portfolio". By that I mean, I would often be brought in as a temporary leader to fix and organization. Then, I would hire my replacement. The goal was to bring in an expert to replace me so that the team was stronger when I was done running an organization. That way I tried to show how to build an organization without building an empire. So, when you see empire building it is not a good sign.

Have a great day! Jim Sackman Focal Point Business Coaching Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

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