“How to Align Your Team’s Vision and Goals with Corporate Strategy” was originally published by The American Management Association (AMA) Playbook in November 2018.
Setting your sights on attaining specific revenue or sales targets, achieving your desired market position, and other types of goal setting is a critical part of strategy. Goal setting helps clarify an organization’s direction as well as what its needs are if it is to deliver optimal value. But to focus on goal setting to the exclusion of other strategic considerations would be a mistake.
In addition to setting goals, it’s also a good idea to examine how the organization’s design affects the organization’s ability to meet those goals—and to be willing to undergo change when necessary to adapt the design accordingly.
In particular, there are two aspects of strategy that have a direct connection to organization design. These are: attention to outcome, and differentiation.
Designing for Outcome
A small business owner we know recently set and achieved some major goals, which resulted in rapid growth for his company. But despite the positive growth, the result of achieving these objectives was that the company was thrown into a tailspin. They weren’t set up to handle the increased pace of production. The owner had to temporarily slow down growth in order to set the business up to enable it to scale without imploding.
Often, companies of any size will define strategic goals and objectives without clarifying the implications that will result from achieving them. For example, will the organization need to enter new markets to meet these goals? Will work need to happen faster or in greater volume? Thinking through the consequences of goal achievement will help you determine whether and how the organization may need to transform if strategic objectives are to be met.
How Design Affects Differentiation
Another important element to consider is differentiation. Why do your customers choose to do business with you? Your organization design needs to reflect that. For example, if you are competing on quality, your organization needs to have the resources in place to produce and/or deliver truly exceptional products.
We once worked with an industry-leading manufacturer that also had entered the white-label business. They started getting negative feedback from one of their white-label customers about the quality of the products being delivered. It turned out that the company’s machines were not capable of producing at the precise tolerances needed to produce the quality this customer wanted. This company was not set up to win on the point of differentiation they had led their customer to expect.
There are, of course, different ways to respond to such a situation. There may be cases in which it might make sense to differentiate the company in some other way. But in most cases, standing firm on one’s market position and coming up with innovative ways for your organization to deliver on its promises is more efficient than trying to differentiate in new ways every time someone comes along to challenge you.
Implementation is the Key
Once you have determined how your organization needs to be set up to support strategic goal achievement and differentiation, you will need to implement these changes. Care must be taken to do so in a way that maintains strategic alignment through all parts of the organization. This demands a solid understanding of how goal setting and differentiation affects a company’s six organization systems as defined in our Rubik’s Cube organization design model: work processes, structure, information and metrics, people, continuous improvement, and culture. Designing your organization with these in mind will help ensure that the goals you set out to achieve will lead to positive outcomes, and enable your company to maintain its chosen position in the market.