Every business engages in a unique set of activities to achieve its objectives. Taken together, these activities determine the strategic position and, ultimately, the financial performance of the business.
It follows naturally that every manager should strive to have complete visibility and clarity about all company activities. More importantly, employees also have a need to clearly understand how each of their activities fits into current initiatives. They have a need to know how their work contributes to the company’s goals.
Timely, direct access to such information can help inform key strategic decisions, intelligently prioritise tasks, identify and reward winning activities, fine-tune or eliminate under-performing activities and so on. Employee morale and performance are also strongly correlated to the ability to identify with high-level vision and business goals and to have a measurable sense of their individual contribution (i.e. a sense that their work is meaningful.)
Most organisations lack an established mechanism for conveying such information clearly and consistently to all stakeholders on a continuous basis. This is especially problematic in large companies where individual teams often lack an understanding of how their work feeds into the work performed by other teams.
It is easy to label this as a “communications issue” and to attempt to resolve it by encouraging more meetings. Unfortunately, more meetings is rarely the answer to any business problem and typically leads to a decrease in performance (the exact opposite of the intended effect.) The “communications issue” label, being too generic, is difficult to tackle directly and usually remains unresolved.
Even in small businesses (all the way down to the individual freelancer or sole proprietor) it is all too easy to lose track of the reason behind each task throughout the day. Without a good system in place, it can be challenging to measure the effects of every activity on the overall business goals. As a result, prioritisation becomes habitually driven by urgency (rather than importance) and it becomes impossible to break through the current level of performance.
Fortunately, there is a surprisingly simple “low-tech” tool that provides a solution to these problems. It works equally well for individuals and for large, multi-national corporations - in fact, its value increases exponentially with the size of the organisation.
We call this tool an "Activity Alignment Chart" and we have seen the simplicity of it bring refreshing clarity, visibility and alignment to teams of any size. Moreover, once it is adopted, it is difficult (especially for management) to imagine working without it!
An Activity Alignment Chart can be implemented simply on a whiteboard that is manually updated every time activities change (one per team), or more intricately with automated software that spans the entire organisation and breaks communication boundaries across departments. Contact us to request a consultation or to discuss how our custom software can benefit your organisation.