A lot has been written and talked about when it comes to Alignment.
So where do you start to check your alignment?
In my approach to alignment you’d start with the Customers – who lead the definition of the products/services you might render to them and the rest of the marketplace. But their requirements and desires need to be checked against the requirements of other Stakeholders first – as some of those other Stakeholder’s needs supersede those of the Customer.
Note: Your Hierarchy might be different. And it might be different from one Product-set, or Process-set to the next.
The graphic is intended to imply that while Customers lead the definition of Products/Services – their needs are secondary to the Requirements of other Stakeholders – such as the Governments in the lands you operate in. They have things called Laws, Regulations and Codes that must be complied to – while meeting those Customer Requirements – and desires. If the Customer’s Requirements require you to break the law – well then – you probably shouldn’t meet those Requirements – as you also have a fiduciary responsibility to the Shareholders.
What’s this about their “desires” – and how does that come into play?
If all of your Competition is or can meet the same Requirements as you can – then you may need to go beyond Requirements and meet the Desires of the Customers to further differentiate your offerings – when otherwise you’d simply be at “parity” with those competitors. It’s all about getting that “advantage” over your competitors.
Otherwise it going to be all about Price, which leads to less Profit Margin, which goes against (most likely) the Requirements of the Shareholders’ Requirements.
It’s not easy to define and assess your standing vis-a-vis the Stakeholder Requirements – and Desires.
How can you set up measures for these – Customer Satisfaction as well as the Satisfaction of the other Stakeholders – otherwise?
Given the rise of attention to Employee Satisfaction (under the guise of the new, hip phrase of Employee Engagement (only 1 of many measures in my view)) – do you get the balancing act required?
Would you make the Employees more engaged, more satisfied – and bankrupt the Shareholders?
Not for long.
You have Processes in place, formal and informal – but there none-the-less, that produce Products and Services that either meet those Stakeholder Requirements – or not.
How can you assess process Adequacy if you don’t know the Stakeholder Requirements – and the Processes ability to produce to those Requirements?
How can you set up measures for these otherwise?
The Practices – which in my view are the nuances of Processes – how the human performers flex their Performance within the Processes to get the job done – Products/Services rendered that meet the balanced needs of the Stakeholders, yada yada – are key. Humans are not Robots – who themselves are being programmed to flex. Unless total rigidity is required.
As always – it depends.
Check back to those Stakeholder Requirements please.
All Performance is a human endeavor.
The machines/computers haven’t quite taken over yet. They serve human interests.
Resources of many types – are used by Humans, leveraged by Humans, to save Human effort, to improve upon Human effort, to get the Process job done – flexed or not – to meet the needs of the Staj=keholders.
The Knee Bone Is Connected to the Thigh Bone
There was a reason we were all taught that nursery rhyme.
So that we could see the connections – what your osteopathic doctor would see/say as – the alignment.
Seeing these relationships – the drivers for responses – the stimuli that leads to a response – the Requirements that drive the things we have in place – allows us to check for their adequacy. Or not.
This is covered in three of my recent books. As well as in articles that go way back – to – back in the day.
The Fifth Management Foci is for line and staff managers – and perhaps those new to Performance Improvement (by any of a number of names/labels used: HPT, HPI, TQM, etc.).
The Analysis of Performance Competence Requirements – is for Instructional Analysts and Performance Improvement Analysts.
From Training To Performance Improvement Consulting – is for leaders of Training/ Learning functions who need to help their clients/customers get beyond that solution-set – to those that will actually change the performance dynamic – which might lead to more training after those other variables are addressed first.
Check the Resource Tab for other resources in various media forms – but you might start with this:
The Customer Is King – Not! – 15 page PDF – the original version of the article published in the Journal for Quality and Participation in March 1995 – address Balancing Conflicting Stakeholder Requirements, and suggests that the Customer is Not the King of Stakeholders (despite the unfortunate slogans from the Quality movement – despite Deming’s admonitions about slogans).
Determining the needs in order to assess the current state isn’t easy. Otherwise that would have been done by now.
And – it’s often a moving target. So it is not “a one and done” type of effort.
Good luck – and may the Balance of Stakeholder Requirements, be in your favor.
# # #