Can Silos Be Aligned on Strategy?

Wouldn’t you love to see an organization that was fully aligned across all functional arenas?

We talk about specific excellence, like Nordstrom and service or Amazon and speed, but do you know of any organizations in which every single person in every corner of the company is aligned on organizational priorities and strategies? Do you think Nordstrom and Amazon are fully aligned internally?

The “town hall” meeting in which you communicate the current strategy via PowerPoint slides is ineffective in describing the strategy, as well as ineffective in generating alignment. After you leave that room employees will still be operating at cross purposes. Not because they are bad people, but because the work and decisions that their jobs require are not integrated.

Ask each member of your leadership team to separately use one side of one piece of 8-1/2″ X 11″ paper to specify the following headings:

  1. Summary of your business
  2. Mission/Vision
  3. Core Values
  4. Key Elements of Current Strategy
  5. Top Current Functional Challenges/Decisions
  6. How This Year Will Be Different From Last

Until they can do that and agree on the responses, alignment is impossible for the rest of your organization.

Next, verify that the responses to #4 are consistent with #1, #2, and #3. If they are not, silos are the least of your problems.

Now, agree on how #5 integrates with #4.

Lastly, to make this actionable and aligned, agree on the bullet points under #6 that are the expected result of executing #4 and #5. If you and your team cannot do that, it’s time to change the strategy.

You and each individual on your leadership team should be able to complete the above assignment before your first coffee break.

With each leader referring to this “charter for the year” daily as discussing priorities, actions, and decisions with their staff, alignment is possible. Using it without exception will create alignment.

Silos are not the problem.

Unaligned leaders are.

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