Simon Terry

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Divided | Outcomes

One of the challenges in traditional management processes is that goal setting is a one-way process. The cascade of goals down through the silos of an organisation without feedback and adaptation inevitably results in misalignment.

Consider the implementation of a collaboration solution. The overall business goals that justify the project are likely to be high level, ranging from supporting cultural change to specific improvements in customer experience, innovation and efficiency. However in designing a project for implementation these goals end up becoming soloed. Technology has a launch date and costs. Employee communications end up with a goal of user adoption. All the other goals are either cascaded to people too busy to care or are assumed to flow. Not long after users start to wonder why all technology wants is to give them the solution and all employee communications seems to want is for them to use it. By defining the goals in terms of the technology, the business loses its original outcomes and users lose reasons to use the system.

The approach of division of outcomes mean that the business has little opportunity to adapt to change or new opportunities. Budgets are set. Goals are fixed and tied to employee performance. This often results in the situation where the goals of one silo, say a launch date & costs, conflict with the goals of another, say adoption. Because these goals are baked into unchangeable and undiscussable plans, people push ahead knowing they are doing the wrong thing. The strategy becomes ‘we’ll fix it later’, but the next plan rarely allows that.

Roger L Martin, a leading strategist and a former business school dean, has highlighted in a series of books that the best strategies are adaptive. They allow for conversations up and down the chain from goals to actions and adaptation based on the lessons from conversations and action. If you want to prevent your business strategy turning into soloed nonsense then allow two-way conversations about goals and approaches. Better yet, use your collaboration platform as a hub of this learning and adaptation.


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