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Are You Just Keeping The Lights On, Or Are You Growing?

25 April, 2019

Any project your business undertakes that’s not aligned with your overall strategic objectives serves only to keep the lights on. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, keeping the lights on is important.

But those projects are distinct from the projects that help you to grow and if growth is a priority, it usually is, it’s likely there will need to be tight integration between transactional projects and strategically important work.

Everyone should understand and know their company’s strategyEveryone should understand and know their company’s strategy

So, how are you aligning the projects you undertake, with your organisation’s strategic initiatives? Are you even doing that? Do you understand the difference?

Harvard Business School Professor, Michael Porter, asserts that the No.1 purpose of a strategy is alignment. Through alignment, a strategy helps people make good choices and reinforces the choices others make. He also states that everyone should understand and know their company’s strategy. Rather than being locked away and protected it should be widely shared and understood.

Without this broad company-wide understanding there will be inefficiencies and the potential for failure. There will also be frustrations within the organisation.

To illustrate what we mean, let’s take a look at a fictitious design agency, and let’s call them Blue Mountain Design.

Blue Mountain Design want to grow from being a small two-person business into a 40 strong team of creative professionals. They understand achieving this requires some great case studies about the value they’ve added to their client’s businesses. They believe that by doing this, they will secure the blue-chip clients they want.

As part of their strategy, they have stated that every project must tick the following boxes, the four rules of engagement.

  1. It must have the potential to make them famous
  2. It must be fun to work on
  3. It must be profitable
  4. It must move the agency forward

If that aspect of their strategy isn’t well understood across the company, if the information isn’t written down and easily accessible, there’s a big danger of projects being taken on that don’t align with the four rules.

So, it’s Monday morning and an opportunity comes in. It’s a web design project for a small business on a tight budget. It’s a project that’s worth perhaps £3000, not a trivial amount of money but not a lot either.

If the person taking the call doesn’t know about the four rules of engagement they may decide to take the project on, after all, it will generate some income and that’s a good thing, right?

But doing this will divert resources away from strategically aligned work to deliver something that isn’t aligned, in simple terms, it won’t help the agency get to where they want to be.

You can imagine the conversations.

  • "Why are we working on this pointless project?"
  • "It’s not pointless, it’s generating income"
  • "Does it follow our agreed strategic rules of engagement?"
  • "Our what?"
  • "The four rules that help us decide if a project is right for us"
  • "I know nothing of this, I thought we just wanted to get design projects and that’s what this is."

Now, this is a really simple and somewhat contrived example of how a lack of alignment and communication can hinder a business’s development. But it’s more than likely that it’s representative of what’s actually happening out in the wild.

The need for a simple strategy execution tool is obvious, as it helps businesses avoid these situations. It puts strategy front of house and removes the usual smoke and mirrors that surround it. It creates a shared collaborative environment that makes strategy real and relevant.

At Alertise we’ve put a huge amount of time and effort into understanding the process of rolling out a strategy. Our SaaS tool helps our clients make sure their strategy is well understood across their organisation as well as providing a suite of tools that make strategy deployment agile and continuous.

If you’d like to see how Alertise can help you manage and execute your strategy, get in touch.

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