Many organizations develop great vision/mission statements yet are unable to implement them. After researching a number of organizations with particular concentration on Gulf countries, we have determined that there are three major cornerstones that an organization must have in place; Organizational Alignment, Open Communication, and Functional Trust (ACT) in order to succeed

Organizational Alignment refers to focusing the attention of all members of an organization towards the achievement of a common goal, such as increase in sales, profitability, or productivity. It can be argued that the single most important alignment goal is customer satisfaction, which leads to the increase of sales, profit and productivity.
One of the best examples of alignment is the story of two bricklayers. One was asked what he was doing. He replied, “I am laying bricks.” The second was asked the same question and he replied, “I am building a mosque.”
The difference in the answers is alignment. In the second reply, the bricklayer was given an insight into the total scope of the project. The first was not.

Question:  Which of the two bricklayers do you think will be more productive?
Open Communication requires that everyone in an organization have the freedom to communicate both horizontally and vertically. Both horizontal and vertical communication must be focused on a common objective; customer satisfaction.
One of the most important mistakes many organizations make is the assumption that communication with employees is completed when management tells them what is expected of them. In order for communication to be effective, there must be a feedback mechanism in place so employees can contribute to the decision making process.
Without a feedback mechanism, the management of the organization is forced to make important decisions without knowing or understanding the real-time conditions of the market place.

Imagine two armies, one where the commanding officers issue orders with no input from the soldiers on the front line. The second army requires feed back on such issues as the position of the enemy, weather conditions, casualties, and supply needs.

Question:  Which of the two armies will be the most successful?
Functional Trust does not just exist; it is earned on customer expectations that have been met on both an interpersonal and business levels. Successful organizations trust their employees and empower them to make decisions based on satisfying customers. When organizations empower their employees, they do so with the understanding that, from time to time, an employee will make a mistake. When such a mistake occurs, management uses the experience to create a learning environment.
Nordstrom, a successful department store in the U.S, encourages their employees to accept returned merchandise with no questions asked. Other department stores require extensive, time consuming paperwork before they will accept returned merchandise.

Question: Which department store is more customer-focused?
One of our well-known telecom clients is an excellent example of how ACT worked for them. This client determined that their five-year goal should be to become one of the top ten global telecom companies. Working together with us, senior leadership developed the goals, strategy and tactics required to proceed with their five-year plan.

Senior management then “aligned” divisional leaders so they would buy into the plan. Each division’s senior leadership created a specific departmental plan that was aligned with the over-all corporate plan. These departmental plans were then “communicated” to all employees. In the process management successfully built a strong culture of “trust” within the organization.

There is a very important element that also must be understood to ensure success; consistency. Too often management announces elaborate programs designed to result in customer satisfaction. They then assume that everything will fall into place without on-going, aggressive support.
By ACTing you are building and supporting a leadership culture in your organization.
This means that everyone within the organization is responsible for leadership within his or her specific area.

This is the first in a series of articles discussing alignment, communication and trust.

By Rimon W. Bitar, Executive Vice President, Linkage MENA

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