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Welcome to the November 2009 issue of Alignment Solutions! Here are this month’s highlights:

            • If you are interested in learning about low- or no-cost techniques to increase employee engagement, you may want to listen to the recording of our free one-hour teleseminar called How to Engage Employees NOW and Retain Them Later – No Matter What Industry You’re In.  Click here to access the recording. 

            • Are you wondering how to set priorities so your organization can operate effectively? If so, you may be interested in my free interview series called Deft Decisions in Chaotic Conditions: How Experts Create Order from Turmoil. I have been compiling priority-setting advice from a wide range of experts, including first responders (e.g., those in law enforcement and emergency aid) and non-first responders (e.g., small business turnaround expert). The entire series of 30-minute interviews will be available on my web site shortly. For a preview of the advice from these experts, please see this month’s Business Solutions article.

            • Given the overwhelming demand for help with coping with the new workplace realities, I have developed a teleseminar series called Organizational Renaissance™ that is designed to provide practical tools and techniques to help you work effectively and minimize the consequences of the short-term, economic downturn-driven decisions. Although we are more than halfway through this seven-part series, it’s not too late to join us! Click here for more information.

 

This month’s theme is “Organizational Renaissance™.” What I mean by this term is the process of making a conscious choice about what your organization is doing, how and why it is doing what is has chosen, and then embarking on the journey to achieve this vision. I invite you to read this month’s Feature Article for information about how this concept can help your organization thrive. The other two articles this month support this theme by discussing ways to help you prioritize workplace and personal decisions.

The Feature Article, “Organizational Renaissance: Choosing to Thrive Rather than Survive,” points out the unique opportunity to re-create your organization for sustained success, and identifies six critical success factors for doing so.

In “7 Elements for Setting Priorities Successfully,” the Business Solutions section lists seven common themes identified by experts in setting, aligning, and implementing priorities.  

In the Personal Solutions section, “Do You Make Your Passion a Priority?” we share what may be an unsettling perspective on setting priorities, and we list six suggestions to help you get started in examining your priorities.

 

I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues.  I welcome your feedback!

 

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Organizational Renaissance™: Choosing to Thrive Rather than Survive

The economic downturn has provided an unprecedented opportunity for organizations to engage in intense self-examination and really identify who they are - and who they are not. I use the term Organizational Renaissance™ to describe the process of (1) taking a close look at what organizations are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it, and then (2) either re-affirming the path they are on or choosing a new one. Renaissance may be defined as a renewal of life or interest, a re-birth. Used here, the term Organizational Renaissance™ is meant to describe a process that goes beyond merely restoring a previous (pre-recession) state; instead it defines an ascent to a much higher level of performance. At this point in time, the term aptly describes the choice facing organizations today: will they take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity created by the economic downturn to examine their purpose and act on their findings, or will they allow it to pass them by? Will they choose to thrive in the coming years, or will they settle for mere survival?

Although executives and business owners may choose to undergo the Organizational Renaissance™ process at any time, current economic conditions have provided a unique opportunity for change. Here’s why: most individuals understand that because the way we do business has been altered drastically, workplaces necessarily have undergone substantial changes. As a result, while they don’t like many or most of the adjustments that have resulted from the economic uncertainties, employees are less resistant to workplace changes than they have been in the past. For this reason, now is the time to examine closely the organization’s mission and vision as well as its operating processes and procedures.

However, the current window of opportunity is closing quickly: by the time the economy turns around, it will have slammed shut. That is, as conditions begin to improve, many employees are likely to conclude – albeit incorrectly – that “business as usual” has been restored, and that previous conditions and practices will return as well. Thus the flexibility and understanding they have exhibited will disappear, past positions again will become entrenched, and employees will be very resistant to change.

What this scenario means is that right now you truly have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to purposefully examine who you are as an organization and how you want to operate, and to implement changes that will determine the future of the organization – all with a relatively low degree of resistance.

If you are serious about seizing the current short-term opportunity to focus on elements that will enable you to engage in your own Organizational Renaissance™, you may want to consider six critical success factors that will help your organization thrive. While these factors do require changes in behavior, they can be implemented with little or no financial cost.

            1. Fully successful employees
            2. Courageous leaders
            3. Building community
            4. Empowering choices
            5. An appreciative culture
            6. Tools and practices that engage and retain employees

We will be addressing each of these elements in more detail in future articles. Until then, what are you doing to ensure your organization thrives in the future?

 

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7 Elements for Setting Priorities Successfully

One set of skills that is critical in any organization is that of setting, aligning, and implementing priorities. These skills are particularly important today, as organizations struggle to “re-group” in the aftermath of radical changes caused by the economic downturn.

To gain some insight into these skills, I conducted a series of interviews with experts in this area, both first responders (e.g., from law enforcement, the fire service, an emergency aid agency) and non-first responders (e.g., business turnaround expert, professional organizer, fighter pilot turned entrepreneur). While each individual shared some unique perspectives, there were common themes as well. Here are seven elements based on those themes that you might find helpful in informing the process by which you set, align, and implement priorities.

  1. Identify and communicate a clear vision.
  2. Engage in advance planning.
  3. Build flexibility into your plans and processes.
  4. Develop trusting relationships with those you are working with and leading.
  5. Require leaders to set the example they want others to follow.
  6. Ensure the commitment of every person involved.
  7. Communicate clearly and frequently throughout the organization.
For in-depth explanations of these elements, please see the related article From Chaos to Calm: The Experts’ Guide to Setting Priorities on the Business Alignment Strategies web site.

 

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Do You Make Your Passion a Priority?

What are you most passionate about? What gets you out of bed in the morning because you can’t wait to get to it? How are you manifesting that passion in your everyday life?

My observation is that although people assert that they are passionate about various activities, events, or causes, their actions often fail to match their words. That is, they seem to spend relatively little time or energy actually doing the things they say they are passionate about. Why is this point worth noting? Because priorities are the things we do, not the things we say we are going to do. This means that we each have to take responsibility for achieving – or not achieving - our stated priorities. We cannot blame others; the proverbial buck stops with us.

Consider this: when you say “I don’t have time to do X,” essentially you are saying “I choose to make something other than X a higher priority.” For example, if your son or daughter asks you to attend a soccer game and you say you can’t go because of a work-related commitment, your action demonstrates that, regardless of what you say, your work is a higher priority for you at that moment than attending your child’s game. Although you may blame the conflict on the boss or the pressures of your job, the fact is that you are the one making the choice.

What priorities are you demonstrating? If your actions do not match your stated passion, what’s preventing you from making it a priority? One of the most popular excuses that I hear is, “I don’t have the time.” Yet everyone has the same number of hours in the day to get things done, so what you really are saying is “I choose not to take the time to do this.” Another possible reason for incongruent actions and words may be the “reward” that people experience when they deny themselves the pleasure they would get from truly making their passion a priority. For example, some people seem to enjoy playing the victim or martyr role. The attention they get from others when they do so is the “juice” that encourages these behaviors.

In other cases, there may be long-held beliefs, conscious or unconscious, that prevent us from indulging in our passion. Do any of these beliefs sound familiar?

“You can go out to play after you finish your work.”
“We must put others’ needs before our own.”
“Rewards must be earned.”

Note the use of the terms “indulge” and “rewards” in the above paragraph. Even our words signal that our passions are luxuries. In fact, passion is not a “reward:” it’s a life force that gives us energy and compels us to share our gifts and talents with the world.

How can you truly make your passion a priority? Here are six ideas for your consideration:

          

  1. Create a really clear picture of where you want to go and how you want to be.
  2. Think about your "life" as a whole instead of blocking it into segments (e.g., work life, non-work life).
  3. Spend time focusing on what you are passionate about, and how you can incorporate that passion in all aspects of your life.
  4. Take ownership of your decisions.
  5. Recognize that your actions speak louder than words. To get a sense of what your priorities are, keep track of what you do for a week so you can begin to identify patterns of behavior and choices you make on a day-to-day basis. They will provide clues that can inform your future choices.
  6. Be sure your decisions honor and reflect your values.

 

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Date of Publication: November, 2009
Pat@BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com
www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch