Why Your Organization Isn’t Aligned to Perform

Author: Bryan Ritchie

As a young 19 year old I left home and found myself in the completely unfamiliar land of Thailand. A few months before I left I couldn’t have even pointed to Thailand on a map, and now I was trying to figure out how to survive there. I quickly learned that one of the biggest problems I had was getting very clear thoughts and ideas in my head out of my mouth and across to others in what was, at least at first, a very unclear butchering of the Thai language. The truth was that no matter how clearly I understood the ideas in my head, if I couldn’t communicate them clearly to those listening to me, nothing happened.

The same is true in most organizations. While some organizations will admit to not having a mission, vision, strategy, and goals, most are adamant that they have these things. In fact, in many cases they can point to them inscribed on a plaque on the wall! However, the number of organizations that have effectively translated these directions and high-level objectives into the day-to-day activities that will ensure that all the team players of the organization are working effectively to achieve these objectives and directions is far fewer, indeed even rare.

Translating the mission, values, vision, objectives, and strategy into a tightly focused set of goals and behaviors that are mutually aligned throughout the organization seems like a prerequisite for success. Yet, as I mentioned above, it rarely happens. Most employees spend their days responding to the urgent requirements imposed by others and much less, if any, time on key performance activities that drive mission-critical results.

Consider what happens if an organization’s team has not translated higher-level directions and objectives into key performance activities and behaviors. First, it is almost impossible for the employee to understand how what he or she does everyday matters to the organization’s top goals. If my job is to stock shelves and the store’s goal is to raise revenue, how does stocking shelves raise revenue? If the store general manger asked me, the shelf stocker, what I could do to raise revenue in the store, how would I answer?

Sports teams have done an amazing job at “deconstructing” high-level objectives into focused, goal-driven behavior. Most teams have as their top objective to win a championship. Virtually every team has gone through the effort to make sure that ALL players know EXACTLY what their role is in helping the team win a championship. If you ask the player, they’ll tell you EXACTLY what they should be doing every day. For example, if a basketball team’s objective is to win a world championship, the team will know how many games it needs to win to get into the playoffs. It will know what kind of players it needs to draft. It will understand for each position what kind of production is necessary. If I, as a player, fill one of these positions, I will know exactly what I need to improve in order for me to contribute to our team’s success. If I want to remain on this team I will spend time every day working on those things.

Why isn’t a non-sports team the same way? Shouldn’t all organizations be as proscriptive about creating a translation map from high-level objective down to player level activities? The answer is YES! To do so we must think about the following questions:

  1. What players do I need to hire or train to fill key needs?
  2. What systems and processes do I need to implement to ensure we can execute?
  3. What goals and strategies should each team have that represent their contribution to the organization’s goals and strategies?
  4. What skills and abilities do we need to develop individually and as a team in order to win?

It is not enough to assume that if we communicate our mission, values, vision and strategy to everyone in the company that they will know what to do about it. We must deliberately ensure that everyone in the organization knows exactly what they need to do in order for the organization to succeed. Then we need to hold each player accountable to perform that role. Only then can we be confident that our organization is aligned to perform!

Bryan Ritchie and James Western are co-founders of GrowthSPORT, a successful consulting company whose mission is to improve SCORES (Stimulate Culture, Optimize Results and Engage Staff) for Teams, Divisions, Departments and Organizations through the SPORT model (Strategic Alignment, Personnel Performance, Operational Execution, Results Accountability and Team Strength), which are the Five Core Elements of Success.

GrowthSPORT provides resources, tools and experienced consultants to effectively implement the SPORT performance model from companies ranging from Startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Feel free to reach out to GrowthSPORT at (801) 676-2500 or at www.growth-sport.com.


Growth SPORT
12894 South Pony Express Road, Suite 100
Draper, UT 84020
(801) 676-2500