Enterprise alignment means getting every person in the organization to row in the same direction, which makes the organization stronger and allows achievement of better results. Creating constancy of purpose is fundamental to attaining enterprise alignment. Senior leadership must define the purpose of the organization, align the strategy and True North metrics to the purpose, and communicate this consistently with the entire organization. This will enable staff at all levels to connect their daily work with the organization’s mission. Creating constancy of purpose will help staff feel more connected to the mission and in turn they will likely feel more ownership and pride in their work.
Here is some advice for creating constancy of purpose in your organization:
- Do set a few (three to five) key organization-wide goals that connect directly to purpose – Often organizations have a slew of strategic initiatives that they are working, but they don’t seem to be getting anywhere with any of them. Narrow down these strategic initiatives to the vital few that support your mission and True North. This will allow all areas of the organization to stay focused on what matters most.
- Do ensure that all levels of the organization focus on metrics that support True North – True North is the organization’s guide to staying on course with the purpose.
- Do clearly and regularly communicate mission and strategy with all staff – Communication is on important element in creating constancy of purpose. This is a continuous process, not something that can be done once a year. Remember that communication goes two ways, it is important that staff can communicate how their work connects rather than just reciting the mission.
- Don’t allow your mission and vision to become merely wall paper – Posting your organization’s mission and vision on a wall is not communicating it. While it is helpful to keep this visible for all staff, it can easily become wall paper if you do not build systems and processes that keep everyone focused on True North.
- Don’t start new initiatives without a process to prioritize them and deselect down to the critical few – Once your strategic initiatives are set it is helpful to create a process to determine whether a new initiative connects to the critical few that your organization will focus on. Many organizations use a filter process to ensure that the work of the organization stays focused on the right things.
- Don’t create strategy A3s in silos – Strategic A3s should cascade through the organization and align with one another. This is achieved by seeking input on A3s from others in the organization and playing catchball throughout the process.
According to the Shingo Institute constancy of purpose is “an unwavering clarity of why the organization exists, where it is going, and how it will get there.” This is achieved through a well-defined mission and vision, True North, and strategic initiatives. Embracing the principle constancy of purpose contributes to enterprise alignment and helps everyone in the organization work together with a shared understanding. The key to constancy of purpose is to remember that this is long-term and should not be drastically changed every year.
Peter Mariahazy, Chief Administrative Officer