If you’ve been disregarding the value of running a purpose-driven business, here’s a statistic that might change your mind: 89% of US consumers are more likely to positively perceive brands and business that lead with purpose. Not only that, but the past decade has seen purpose-driven brands increase their market valuation by 175%.
Clearly, customers are interested in businesses that have a clear sense of purpose and direction. But how can we achieve this? The answer is business alignment, which is the process of ensuring that all aspects of your company — from marketing to sales to product development — work together in support of your overall direction.
Today we’ll discuss what business alignment is and why it’s important, then we’ll outline five steps you can take to achieve it in your own company. Let’s get started!
Business alignment: what is it?
In order to be successful, companies need to have a clear idea of their mission and goals, and be working towards them in a coordinated way. This is known as business alignment. When all parts of the company are pulling in the same direction, it can create a powerful force that helps you achieve your goals.
Take, for example, the concept of corporate social responsibility. If you are trying to increase profits while also being socially responsible, you will need to have all parts of the company working together toward the specific goal of being socially responsible.
For instance, perhaps you are trying to convey an eco-friendly message to your customers. Your marketing department would need to develop strategies to communicate this message, while your engineering team would need to design products that are more environmentally friendly.
If everyone is working towards the same goal, it will be much easier to achieve than if everyone is working on their own individual goals: hence why business alignment is so important.
Elements of business alignment and what they entail
Business alignment is a pretty self-explanatory concept at face value, but it can be a little more complicated in practice. This is why it’s often broken down into five different components:
This type of alignment happens when the technology goals of a business are in line with its overall strategic objectives. For example, if a company wants to increase its online presence, its IT department would need to develop and implement technologies that support this goal.
Alignment of management systems
Management systems alignment involves streamlining different management structures and processes of a company to support its overall strategic objectives.
For example, if a company wants to expand into new markets, its marketing department would need to develop a plan that outlines how this will be done and then align all other management systems (such as HR, accounting, and production) to support this plan.
Alignment of resources
This type of alignment entails when all the resources of a company are being used to support its overall strategic objectives. If a company wants to increase its market share, for example, it would need to allocate more resources (such as money, people, and equipment) to its marketing department.
Alignment of communication
Communication alignment requires all the communication within a company to be aligned with its overall strategic objectives. This includes everything from the messages that are being sent out to the public to the way employees are communicating with each other.
Alignment of goals
Finally, goal alignment happens when the individual goals of employees are aligned with the overall strategic objectives of the company. This is often done by tying employee bonuses and incentives to the achievement of specific strategic goals.
Business alignment is the culmination of all these different types of alignment, and it’s what ensures that a company is moving in the same direction and working towards the same vision. When all these components are working together effectively, a company can achieve a high level of performance and be more successful in the long run.
However, if any of these components are out of alignment, it can lead to chaos and confusion within the company. This is why it’s so important for businesses to take the time to align all their different systems and processes before starting down a new strategic path.
Do you need a business alignment intervention?
When you’re managing or actively contributing to a business, and you’re immersed in the day-to-day of “doing”, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. You may not even realize things are off-kilter until it’s too late. That’s why you need to periodically check in on your business alignment to ensure you’re still heading in the right direction.
If you are in need of a business alignment intervention, there will be several clear symptoms. Let’s take a look at four common ones:
1. You’re not seeing the results you want
Are you working hard but not seeing the growth or success you anticipated? This could be a sign that something is off-balance in your business. Maybe your strategy needs tweaking, or your team isn’t working as efficiently as they could be. Without proper alignment, it’s difficult to make progress.
For instance, perhaps you’ve spent weeks launching a new marketing campaign, but you’re not seeing the ROI you were hoping for. This could be because your strategy is misaligned, and only a few members of your team are actually executing it. The fix? Re-evaluate your campaign and make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Your team is lacking in motivation and drive
If your team is unhappy, unmotivated or uninspired, this could be another sign that things are out of whack. A lack of direction can lead to a lack of enthusiasm and productivity in the workplace.
There are many possible reasons for this problem. Maybe the company culture isn’t right, or the team isn’t clear on their roles and responsibilities. Or, maybe the company’s values don’t reflect those of the employees. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to address it head-on.
3. You’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out
Do you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires? This could be a sign that you’re not organized or that your priorities are out of alignment. When you’re not sure what the goal is, it’s difficult to stay focused and productive.
If this is the case, take some time to re-evaluate your business goals and figure out what’s most important. Once you have a clear direction, you can start to create a plan of action and put steps in place to achieve your goals.
4. You’ve noticed a lack of client engagement or loyalty
It can be alarming when your clients begin to jump ship, but it’s also a good indication that something is wrong. If your business isn’t heading in the right direction, it’s likely that your clients can sense it.
There are many reasons why client engagement might decline, but it’s usually a sign that something is off with the company’s branding or messaging. Take a look at your marketing materials and see if they accurately reflect what your company is all about. If not, it’s time for a makeover.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time for a business alignment intervention. By taking a step back and evaluating your company’s direction, you can get things back on track and start seeing the results you want.
How to re-align your business
If the four symptoms outlined in the previous section alerted you to the fact that your business needs an intervention, you’re likely wondering how to go about re-aligning it. The good news is that there are a few different ways to approach this, all of which will be based on your company’s specific situation and needs.
Define what success looks like
If you don’t have a clear idea of what success looks like for your business, it’s time to sit down and develop a strategy. What are your short-term and long-term goals? What needs to happen in order for you to consider your business a success?
Once you have a solid definition of success, make sure all members of your team are aware of it and understand how they play a role in achieving it.
Evaluate your processes
Chances are, there are areas of your business that need improvement. Take the time to evaluate your processes and figure out where you can make changes that will have a positive impact on your bottom line. This could involve streamlining your operations, improving communication among team members, or making changes to your sales strategy.
Set measurable goals
One of the best ways to ensure that your business is headed in the right direction is to set measurable goals and track progress along the way. Doing this will help you to identify areas where you need to make adjustments and ensure that everyone in your company is working towards the same goal.
Get feedback from your team
If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, how can you make changes that will improve your business? That’s why it’s important to get feedback from your team on a regular basis.
Ask them what they’re struggling with, what ideas they have for improvement, and what goals they’re working towards. This will help you to identify any areas of disconnect and make the necessary changes.
When it comes to business alignment and direction, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, by following the tips outlined above, you can ensure that your business is headed in the right direction and that everyone is on board with your strategy.
Final thoughts on business alignment
Every business falls in and out of alignment periodically. If your business is struggling, there’s no shame in it — but there are steps you should take to correct the problem.
The most important step is to ensure that all members of your team are aligned with your company’s vision, mission and values. This will help keep everyone on the same page and focused on your goals.
In order to maintain business alignment, you should also revisit these concepts on a regular basis. Make sure that your vision, mission and values are still relevant and motivating to your team.
And finally, always be prepared to course correct. If you find that your business is no longer aligned with your goals, take steps to get back on track!