After just 5 sessions (1 hour each) you’ll end up with a strong, clear strategy that your whole team will be bought into.
How strongly aligned is my company?
If you’re reading this page, you’re likely thinking some of these things could be better for your company/team/group:
- How clearly can your people articulate the group’s vision and strategy?
- How strongly does each person subscribe to this vision and strategy?
- How confident are you that the strategy includes the diverse perspectives of the people involved?
- When your situation inevitably changes, how easily and quickly can you incorporate changes into your strategy?
- How long has it been since your group deliberately worked on strategy?
Why do we want strong strategic alignment?
You may be bought in already that you need some strategic alignment work. How can you make the case to the people you work with? Here are several of the most persuasive reasons to work on alignment:
- Enthusiastic Buy-in. People crave a vision to work towards — something much bigger than just the single task in front of them. It may be obvious to some people, but not everyone! A clear and explicit vision is so very motivating.
- Avoiding Turbulence and Conflict. When people aren’t aligned you get a lot of “turbulence” — people bringing up points that were “settled” (but not in a way they are happy with. Not having strong alignment is a huge time sink AND seriously hurts morale.
- Inclusion → Better Decisions. Companies make better decisions when everyone on the team can contribute. We want everyone’s voices not just heard, but also understood AND incorporated. It’s no surprise that inclusion of diverse perspectives leads to better decisions — it’s well-studied, too!
- Multiplicative Impact. Strategy is multiplicative. Imagine extending a project a month, or adding an employee to a team — that’s fixed in how much it can improve things (additive). If, instead, the team got a 10% boost in effectiveness across everyone (multiplicative), that can be enormous!
- Investment Payoff. It does cost time, money and energy to develop a strong and clear strategy, of course. In financial terms, this is an investment, and it really pays off. The “return on investment” (ROI) of doing this well is enormous. Imagine spending 4 hours now meaning you can avoid a dead-end 3-month project that wouldn’t have gone anywhere.
- Implicit to Explicit. Everyone comes to the table with different perspective, and different assumptions. We have trouble when these assumptions stay implicit, because we talk around each other and around the issues. When we can make these all explicit instead, these issues are so much easier to work on. It becomes tractable!
How can we achieve strong alignment?
With Happy and Effective you can achieve much stronger alignment after five hours of collaborative decision making sessions.
“Five hours is a lot! Why so many hours?”
- To get everyone’s voices heard and perspectives incorporated, we have to make space for everyone to share.
- Each session is a totally different headspace to be in, and it helps to spend enough time in each headspace.
- Just a few focused, facilitated hours can save you months of work spent working on lower-priority, lower-impact things
“Five hours is so few! How can you do it?”
- An experienced facilitator can really open communication and get information flowing well.
- A lot of tools used in the right moments: independent brainstorming, pair discussions, group discussions, visual aids (Miro whiteboards, Google Docs, etc).
- Focused framing: each session has very specific, targeted goals.
What does the process look like?
This usually takes five one-hour sessions with the group of people involved in making these decisions — usually 3-8 people.
The same process can be done at many levels of the company: company, department, team, etc. It helps to start as high as you can, like: company goals first, then department goals, then team goals.
Here are descriptions of the five sessions:
- Dreaming: Hopes and Fears. What would a utopian future look like for the company/initiative? What would a nightmare future look like? To set a long-term direction, we must look up from what’s immediately in front of us (weeks) to further ahead (6 months to 5 years).
- Shared Decision Making Criteria. When we are making decisions and choosing what to focus on, what factors go into that? We may end up with a huge list (15+)! Then we can group them back up to be 3-7 criteria groups, which is much easier for the human brain to handle.
- Brainstorming Options. Thinking broadly and creatively: what are all of the different options we have available to us? What if we had all the money and expertise we needed? We’ll likely uncover options we never would have imagined without this session!
- Making decisions. Putting it to numbers. We can use a spreadsheet to rank our options by each of our criteria, and what comes from it is usually a very accurate representation of what’s been swirling around everyone’s heads — except together, aligned.
- Communicating the direction. How do you communicate this all to the people on our team? We’ll work together to craft a message in your voice to share with your team. Writing this together means you’ll be able to message in a similar way when things inevitably change.