Alignment – Secret Sauce of High Growth Businesses

Alignment – Secret Sauce of High Growth Businesses

Something magical happens when resources are aligned, when staff feel part of something special. Somehow work becomes play.The hours fly by. There is a calling, a purpose to what you are doing and your colleagues feel the same way. This doesn’t just happen. A leader can create this. And I’m not thinking about a hot new start up (although I could be), I’m thinking about the niche manufacturer in metals, or the email marketing company or the travel company. The company could be 25 years old or 2 years old. The opportunity remains the same. As a leader you have an opportunity to create something remarkable. Your ambition is around creating something unique not something for the masses. ( The masses are disappearing and being replaced by the weird, the remarkable – some great examples here)

Examples

  1. Apple spent $1.8Bn in 2010, that ranks it #70 of 1000 large R&D spenders, Microsoft spent nearly 5 times that at $8.8Bn which ranks it at #4, but who do you think of as more innovative?
    Alignment of R&D with your core strategic aims is the number one factor in effective R&D according to Booz & Co.
  2. Look at the activities of the Inc 500, they are all over the map, from #1 ideeli, web retail site, 3 year growth of 40882%  and #500 Paradigm, tax consulting practice, 681%, but they have all found a cause, a calling, aligning the efforts of staff to create a focused, fun place to work.
  3. When a non core subsidiary is spun off and sold to management, the MBO, it is amazing how alignment produces success. The new owners can now focus on their passionate strategy instead of a compromised version to appease Group HQ. Staff’s roles can be revisited and a new set of objectives established that aligns behind the new strategy. Perhaps a few equity shares helps of course.
  4. A private group can create a new higher  trajectory of growth just by breaking out a mass of activities into distinct profit centers with their distinct customers, competitors, marketing narratives and sales strategy. Each profit center now has cheer leader, a product champion, a focus to align the team.
  5. For 10 years between 1997 to 2007 Commerce Bank created a new culture within the bank that was dramatically successful. Valued at $400 million in 97 they sold to TD Bank in 2007 for $8.5 Bn. Dennis DiFlorio Chairman states, ” We created a cult brand in a dead business.” (Practically Radical, Bill Taylor)
  6. Allan Goldman head of pediatric intensive care at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children studied the pit crew of Ferrari’s Formula One racing team to redesign it’s handoff procedures to sharply reduce medical errors. (Practically Radical, Bill Taylor)

My Own Experience

  1. To create alignment the order of events is crucial. You start with defining your compelling story. Articulate your unique positioning. Create a memorable and inspiring  boilerplate. This covers what you do and the big business results you deliver for clients supported by authentic evidence that makes your claimed results credible. Take a look at this new website I launched with a key Portfolio Company – ADMET.
  2. This story then drives and aligns all marketing activity. This includes all campaigns, collateral and web site copy. All focused on telling the story and designed to drive relevant prospects to the web site to read more, or to engage in conversations.
  3. Sales scripts can now be crafted with your unique positioning in mind. Scripts should be framed around insightful questions that demonstrate your understanding of your unique market and the issues faced by your prospects.
  4. Product teams now have a defined canvas to play on. Your story effectively sets down the limits to the dream. Ironically this is really productive for innovation. With no limits innovation struggles. It needs alignment. Look at the effectiveness of R&D spending when its aligned to corporate objectives. (noted above in the Booz Report)
  5. Recruitment policies now have a story to tell. Candidates especially the 90% not looking for a job can now see your story and are intrigued. All interviews now have a framework to them and it’s not only about the specific job but how it fits into the bigger picture, it’s relevance.
  6. Who you are is what you measure. Analytics, the auditing of the signals can now be conducted in context. By aligning your story, your marketing, your sales strategy and your product road maps, it becomes much clearer which key ratios both financial and non financial you need to measure.
  7. Business models are much easier to design  when you know who you want to make happy and how you want to make them happy. Because of a clarity of purpose, you are able to define the most appropriate way to be rewarded.
  8. Raising capital becomes so much easier with alignment. It all stacks up. The vision and the operational blueprint hang together.
  9. Compliance and risk issues are exposed far quicker as you align the resources and tactics needed. Perhaps you are relying too heavily on a sales person instead of building a world class sales process that is repeatable.
    Because your growth plans are focused, aligned and reconciled across departments it is now easier to spot gaps, risks, missing controls.
  10. Acquisitions now have a strategic context. You are buying a business that you want to buy whether it is up for sale or not.

My new book sets out these 10 key points in more detail and is now available on the Kindle or in paperback.

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