Bring Active Influence Alive in Your Organization!

PURPOSE:

Understand how to Actively Influence your entire organization by using Strategic Blueprints to align your work.

KEY POINTS:

  • What Active Alignment Really Is
  • Primary Tool – the Strategic Blueprint
  • Process & Success Factors
  • Integrate into Organizational Development

Active Alignment in Action!  

One of the most rewarding things I have had the pleasure of witnessing in my work with transforming organizations is the “beauty” of strategic alignment in action! This can occur when there is clarity of purpose and direction (a.k.a., a sound Strategic Blueprint that has been implemented and updated when needed). Check out my “Blueprint as Base” post for a quick refresher on Strategic Blueprints if you need one.

This iterative process creates a “system” whereby on-target strategies “waterfall” down from leadership to managers to teams to individuals. In turn, each level creates their own Strategic Blueprint that is rooted in the prior level. In the process each level charts its own clear course ahead and defines level-specific deliverables that must happen for the future they’ve envisioned to happen. All informed and connected to strategic thinking that takes insight into action. At the Heartwood Group this is what we call Active Alignment.

Active Alignment is possible when the deliverables (those things that must happen for the future you envision to occur) at the Leadership level actively drive and direct the blueprints created at succeeding levels. This process repeats down to the level that interacts directly with the customer and creates a seamless chain of interconnected strategies.

When an organization (big, small or in-between) makes the decision and has the discipline to create actively aligned Strategic Blueprints, things really begin to move! There is clarity, understanding and intense focus at all levels. All sectors can see their part in the overall system and know how important it is to achieve their deliverables so that the future can come into being. Each level flows into the next to lock alignment into place. This is a stellar example of Active Influence alive in the workplace!

Being effectively and newly connected between (and within) organizations really is possible – as I’ve said, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And it’s truly amazing to stand back, watch and feel the positive energy and results it generates. Sometime process brings the perspective needed to make bold moves. Sometimes it just emphasizes what we already knew but couldn’t gain traction on.

All sectors can see their part in the overall system and know how important it is to achieve their deliverables so that the future can come into being. Alignment always comes before “agreement”.

We must resist going right to driving for agreement before we have achieved shared understanding and alignment. Here are some tips to help you influence the development of true Active Alignment in your organization.

Your Primary Tool: The Strategic Blueprint

At a Leadership level, establish your foundational Strategic Blueprint with a “compelling” objective as your guide. You must have complete clarity about your primary objective because the blueprint you develop here will impact everything that happens between this point and how your customers experience your brand. Be fully aware that desired outcomes are the “future state” and can only be made smaller if you cannot deliver on core deliverables. I can’t emphasize this last point enough. Deliverables are “must haves” to make the future arrive. If you can’t stomach them or don’t have the resources necessary than we may have to right-size our future. We do this only after some very grounded conversations and rock-solid clarity because breakthroughs to greater results always involve some risk and a pile of hard work.

You must have complete clarity about your primary objective because the blueprint you develop here will impact everything that happens between this point and how your customers experience your brand. That customer could be internal or external.

  • Work with managers at the next levels to develop corresponding Strategic Blueprints for each key area within the organization. These will guide, engage and involve your managers and their teams.
  • The Strategic Blueprint process calls for development of one-page plans for each core deliverable. This step is ESSENTIAL to achieving Active Alignment. Each one-page plan must have clear strategies, associated tactics, designated responsible parties and commitment dates.
  • The Strategic Blueprints and resulting one-page plans should become the ongoing framework for meeting agendas. They must remain active documents that drive action and accountability. This is what locks Active Alignment securely in place and maintains the seamless chain of interconnected strategies.
  • Set up a forum or forums to engage the organization and other players in communicating the work being done at each level. This will be imperative to capture and meld all efforts into your flow. It also seeds a culture of Active Influence within your organization.
  • DO NOT compromise your process, but let it inform existing ones. Consistency is important for everyone — lead your process as outlined here and then dovetail into your legacy processes if necessary. This is how you take your influence to the highest level.

The process of creating Active Alignment will create shared understanding, which has great rewards in and of itself. Answers will come together from a systemic perspective and grounded truth and not separately from different functions or disparate parties.

The process of creating Active Alignment will create shared understanding, which has great rewards in and of itself.

Active Alignment Success Factors

  • Engage stakeholders proactively to influence the outcomes and actions mapped out in your Strategic Blueprint and one-page Deliverable Plans. Insert your influence quickly as you gain insights and clarity. As you continue the process, you’ll start to get a feel for potential opportunities (and potential roadblocks) as they begin to reveal themselves.
  • Build up and empower your people as quickly as possible with your clear direction and a sincere invitation to participate fully with you in creating the pathway to shared vision. Make sure your requests are clear, connected, relevant and understood as you intend them to be.
  • Inventory all the work generated by the Strategic Blueprint process so that it can be prioritized, and expectations set based on time, human and economic capital available. Urgent and Important work needs to be defined and called out immediately. Marshalling and allocating resources can be among the biggest challenges in achieving Active Alignment and you’ll need to be creative and stay laser focused.

 

  • Inventory all stakeholders and their roles in the process. Think through and list specifically what you need from them. Also define when and how you will engage them. Put a communication plan in place that will make stakeholders feel your presence and understand your needs, but also attend to their concerns.

Power is simply the capacity to take future action on those things you, your team, and your organization value the most.

 

The actions taken in the process of achieving Active Alignment will “automatically” build an internal brand for you and your organization that will create power for you to act and maneuver. Power is simply the capacity to take future action on those things you/your team/your organization value the most. And anything that takes that capacity away is what reduces your power.

Make sure everyone at all levels of your organizational structure understands the rigor it takes to make Active Alignment a reality. It will require clear intent, communication, focus and genuine passion to achieve the future you envision.

Integrate into Your Organizational & Leadership Development Approach

Although all organizations are different, the basic process I’ve outlined here can be applied anywhere. The starting point is always a comprehensive, strategically sound blueprint — after that, the sky’s the limit. It can take you as far as your level of commitment and resources allow.  Development of a strong foundational blueprint requires systems thinking and a true strategic thinking mindset. These skills must be intentionally fostered by organizational development and leadership development practices, topics I’ll cover in detail in upcoming posts. . .