In nearly every organization, one of the most challenging leadership demands is to get true alignment across a spectrum of stakeholders (e.g., co-creators, etc.). In that need to create alignment, the ultimate outcome is some form of decision. That decision may be:
- A financial investment (note: even investment of time and attention have a cost)
- A strategy for any number of things (e.g., business, organization, customers, people, etc.)
- Termination of a prior commitment
- A new commitment
What is your desired outcome? Is it in one of the categories above, or something else?
Clear Intended Outcomes
Getting clear about the intended outcome in all its aspects is the starting point for being as influential as possible. For example, if you are trying to gain alignment on a product strategy, your fully-formed outcome might include:
- A product mix with a 5-year horizon.
- A timeline for new products and retired products.
- Clarity about engineering and manufacturing challenges and potential solutions.
- A repaired relationship with engineering, maybe even a new new understanding and alliance.
- The sales and marketing organization managing customer expectations and desire.
This point about clear outcomes may start to sound like a broken record, but it is so powerful to be able to dissect and then construct exactly what you want to create. Don’t stop with the generic statements above; envision what would occur or be in place if you were successful.
Who Has The Power?
Before you determine your strategy, you can put some real thinking into who has the power —both position and personal power. In the example above, depending on the organization, there may be:
- One person who is fully accountable for the the P&L and can set the product strategy. Or, the organization may have strong silos, with engineering traditionally having decision power. Or, when you really think about it, no one person has the power.
- One function with the power, and a leader who expects collaboration and shared decision accountability across the organization.
- Clear position power, but real personal power with one or more individuals who “trump” the power through their standing and relationships.
Laying out what you know about power is critical to your ultimate strategy. Take 5 minutes and lay out the players in a chart, with who has the big “D” (for decision) and who has the big “P” meaning the real power. Then consider the position and personal power in play for your decision requiring alignment?