Most people in today’s business world would agree that Ram Charan is an icon. He has written a number of best-selling business books, runs a consulting company out of Dallas, and has consulted with many of the largest companies globally.
So, when Charan describes tools that he uses to get organizational alignment, we should all take note and see if these tools can benefit us and our businesses.
In his book, The Attacker’s Advantage, he describes a tool that he uses to get business leaders to align around and focus on the most important strategic activities for their organizations.
I think we can all relate to the scenario where we assume our organizations have alignment around the same core objectives only to find out that people are focusing on very different and sometimes conflicting priorities.
I have seen this misalignment over the years both in organizations and within project teams. In fact, I remember a few painful project incidents where engineering disciplines had differing priorities that caused some significant project delays and cost overruns. These were totally avoidable if we were following Charan’s advice.
And, this is where the “Top 3 Priorities” tool comes in.
What Are Your Top 3 Priorities
“We need team members to see their job as not just confined to their precise scope but to help the group around them or team get the best possible results” Atul Gawande
A strong business depends on people who can see beyond their own cubicle walls. What I mean by this is that a business depends on employees who understand how their actions impact the overall performance of the business. These employees have enough knowledge of the business that they can adjust their day to day work routines, deliverables and interactions so that they maximize value to the business at every occasion.
And, this applies to every employee at every level of the business from the cleaning staff to the board room!
Earlier in my career when I was a new project manager, I ran into an issue where project team members were taking actions that were good for their particular scope of work but they were not considering the impact on the project as a whole. They would take actions that would allow them to get their work done quickly and efficiently but it was causing significant work and rework for other project team members.
Your organization’s leaders need to get together each day for a brief meeting to update one another on what they are doing and seeing in the business. These leadership huddle meetings only take 15 to 20 minutes each day but the benefits can be huge.
The huddles result in:
- Leadership alignment
- Early identification of scope overlap between leaders
- Early identification of areas of concern or areas that no one has covered
- Open communication between business leaders
- Team building and relationship building
A few weeks ago in the blog post “What Does Your Organization Value?” I wrote about what organizational values are and why they are important. I explained that the leaders of an organization must not just communicate organizational values but they must also model the values that they are communicating.
If they model something other than what they are communicating, their staff will pick up on it immediately. Employees emulate the values that their leaders are modeling, not necessarily what they are stating. Hence the Ralph Waldo Emerson statement “Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
In the article, I suggested that leaders conduct a poll of their employees to find out what the employees perceive as the organizational values. I believe that this is an extremely important exercise that an organizations’ leaders should do every few years.
So, how should you go about this in your organization?