Understanding True Alignment

The competition is fierce out in the world of business, there is always the drive to make things bigger (or smaller), better, and cheaper. Consumers demand quality products that actually deliver the results promised. Upon such a competitive playing ground, what separates the business “haves” from the business “have nots?” The answer may be as simple as alignment. When referring to alignment in terms of business, it basically means to have an organized and accepted agreement that is commonly shared between persons within a group. One of the main objectives in business alignment is that everyone understands and knows their contribution towards meeting the commonly shared goals.  

Alignment in Business

Alignment first starts with goal-making and communication. Once specific goals are identified, the goals as well as action plans should be communicated with all employees. Then, after the proper communication has taken place, every employee should understand his or her job and how it adds value to the overall business goals and objectives. Without alignment, employees may not understand why they are doing a job; they just do the job as required with little understanding of its value, or if there really is any value to the task at all. For instance, an employee spends twenty-five percent of every workday inspecting a certain mechanical component on a product when it arrives to him on the assembly line. However, he is unaware that the person before him also inspected the same mechanical part, and that the person after him will also inspect the same mechanical component as well. Yes, while it is important to strive for product excellence, it may not be productively feasible to preform so many checks on a part that has proven to not pose any problems in the past. Hence, this is where alignment could come into play; this step could easily be eliminated so other value-added processes could be conducted to help save time, money, and resources.

Strategy Deployment can Help

A great way to open the doors of communication with employees, managers, and top level staff is to engage in strategy deployment. Strategy deployment is a part of Hoshin Planning which involves the strategic and collective thinking power of all employees to help optimize business processes and activities. One component of strategy deployment is referred to as “catchball.” The term catchball may sound like children’s game of throwing and catching a ball and even though the physical actions are quite different, the general concept is the same. When engaging in catchball, employees and management are urged to ask questions and suggest answers as if throwing and catching a ball but instead with ideas and thoughts. It serves as a platform for open communication so decisions can be made and so everyone understands the reasoning and mindset behind stated goals and objectives. Catchball really sheds light on how certain jobs and contributions align with specific business goals.

The overall goal of any business is to achieve success and rightfully so. However, if business goals and objectives are not strategically aligned and understood by all employees, there may be pockets of inefficiency within certain processes that could lead towards a loss in valuable productivity. It is important to remember that open communication and employee understanding are both vital components when working towards the objective of business alignment.