Aligning People, Process, and Purpose


Aligning People, Process, and Purpose

While companies can’t realize a strategy without effective and consistent implementation, I often find the converse problem – teams large and small are continuously executing without specific clarity on the overall purpose.

Cross-functional teams seem to be working on a reactionary and tactical level, with little insight into how their activity impacts other groups. With all their workstreams needing to come together at some point, there is bound to be a less than desirable outcome.

Without a common understanding of an initiative’s goals and objectives and why it is a priority, and without ensuring alignment across teams, moving any project forward will always be a struggle.

Why isn’t everyone on the same page?

Achieving that focused perspective can be daunting as there are many factors that play a role.

What commonly inhibits this alignment is the lack of a shared frame of reference or context such as

1.     What business problem the organization is really trying to solve for

2.     For who and why 

3.     How this challenge best addressed collectively and what will it take to move it forward across all teams

It requires thinking about the business problem holistically versus a piecemeal approach and through one functional lens alone. It necessitates addressing the key question of WHO this is intended to benefit in the first place. Without a strong understanding of the target audience, regardless of whether they are external or internal, the end activities won’t ultimately deliver the right solution. 

How can you reach that shared perspective?

You can achieve this by first outlining with stakeholders the perceived goals and objectives everyone has been working under. Then determine how these fundamentally align to addressing the needs/frustrations/expectations of the perceived target customer/audience.  You’ll likely find that some don’t. In fact, you may discover that these objectives haven’t been grounded in any firm understanding of what’s best for your target customer and even your own business.

You could even find yourself in a scenario where all the stakeholders have had a different point of view on who the primary customer has been the whole time.

It’s critical to put the target customer at the center of your problem-solving strategy and map internal objectives and activities to their needs. This fundamentally enables you to understand 1) where the true gaps are across your entire organization, 2) how that impacts each department and 3) how to prioritize and work through a set of common goals and objectives moving forward.  By looking at the business and the problem through this lens, it will help establish the clarity and unified understanding around an initiative’s WHY. And most importantly, it will enable you to reach alignment across any project’s purpose, process and people to ultimately move it forward.