Get the opportunity to grow your influence by giving your products or services prime exposure with Performance Magazine.

If you are interested in advertising with Performance Magazine, leave your address below.

Advertise with us
Free Webinar

How to establish proactive internal communication practices for organizational strategic alignment

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Source: Canva

 

One of the greatest human inventions is the magnetic compass, a device that uses the magnetic fields produced by the Earth’s poles for direction. This invention made navigation around the world easier than ever and it has evolved and been integrated into more complex and advanced systems to provide more accurate navigation. 

Analogously, organizational strategy is the compass used by organizations to navigate the journey to their strategic objectives, long-term goals, and vision. If the strategy is not well communicated and understood by all employees, navigation toward the vision is difficult. To achieve strategic alignment, transformation, and growth, the strategy must be conceived and acknowledged by all employees. Therefore, the Strategy Management Office (SMO) should emphasize the importance of internal strategy communication and education while developing and executing the strategy to ensure overall organizational strategic alignment. 

Read More: Internal Communication Strategy: Guiding Principles and Methods

First, the success of a strategic alignment is underlain by how far employees at the departmental level—the gears and the beating heart of the organization—understand and support the strategy. According to Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in their book “The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage,” the organization’s strategy can be visually and quantitatively explained using global strategy maps and scorecards. This can be cascaded to each unit in the organization by applying the top-down approach, ensuring strategic alignment. The benefit of this process is to give each department the opportunity to derive their own strategy maps and scorecards to develop their skills and knowledge that fit the corporate strategy. 

For this process to be implemented professionally, each department should produce a “service-level agreement” that shows how their department’s strategic goals support the strategy along with measurable metrics to be checked periodically by the SMO. Employees play an important role in implementing the strategy at a personal level. This triggers the need for a well-designed communication plan that consistently provides guidance and support to ensure that the strategic goals are always remembered and acknowledged by each employee, how the organization is achieving said goals, and who needs support to do so.  The SMO should provide this communication plan to each department and provide training on how to use its channels.  

Second, understanding the distinction in management levels as well as how to deliver the strategy to the targeted audiences and guide them in following it ensures professional implementation of strategic alignment. As discussed in The KPI Institute’s Certified Performance Management Professional course, there are three levels of management. The highest level is Top-Level Management, which uses a strategic management style that involves adopting long-term views and ensuring that tasks are performed in such a way as to achieve strategic goals. C-suite executives such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO) are examples from this level who need to digest long-term goals to better deliver them to the other management levels. Hence, the SMO should support each chief officer to have a clear understanding and implementation of long-term goals. 

Middle-Level Management is the next level, and it includes general, regional, and divisional managers who deliver results by planning and setting objectives for their respective divisions. SMO should facilitate training sessions in performance measurement and management for this management level in order to ensure strategic goals are well measured, managed, and aligned with the mission. 

The last level of management is called Operational-Level Management, and it consists of first-line managers, department managers, and team leaders. These managers aim to develop a high-performance culture and high-performance work systems. Additionally, they manage teams and individual performance to meet organizational goals. Thus, the SMO should identify the core process that represents the organization’s strategic goal and that gives value propositions to its identity and then, work together with the operational managers to build the culture and the system of the organization based on this process. 

Read More: How public entities can better communicate strategy to citizens

Finally, clear corporate values enforce strategy implementation and guide employees’ behavioral aspects, priorities, and attitudes toward achieving organizational goals and aligning them with the corporate strategy. Corporate Values enforce principles that employees use to make decisions in day-to-day business activities, and they also solidify organizational culture. According to a survey carried out by employee engagement specialists Reward Gateway, employers with high Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS) have a workforce where over 80% of employees feel that they are recognized by their employer when they demonstrate corporate values. Therefore, a values-driven organization creates a work environment that fosters organizational strategic alignment. 

To succeed at achieving strategic alignment, employees at the departmental level should understand and support the corporate strategy. Moreover, understanding how to deliver and support corporate strategy according to management levels, helps in professional strategy implementation. Finally, creating a values-driven workforce encourages employees to drive their behaviors and attitudes toward achieving organizational strategic goals.

If you are interested in reading more insightful articles about strategy and communication, click here.

***************************

This article is written by Engr. Hussien Abdullah Alkhalifah, a strategy and business planning professional who specializes in corporate performance, agile project management, business process improvement, performance management, KPI implementation, quality control, and strategic planning, among others. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

How managers and executives stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in data analytics

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Image Source: Canva

The field of data analytics is very important nowadays, considering how the business environment is going through continuous developments in terms of technology, innovation, globalization and sustainability. The field also faces various economic struggles and unexpected challenges. For these reasons, managers and executives must remain up-to-date with information and data to make the best decisions for their organizations and maintain their competitive advantage in the market by creating value for clients. 

To do so, I recommend managers and executives join different professional groups on LinkedIn where they can ask questions and discuss any challenges they are facing. They should also have subscriptions to various research journals and business magazines. It also helps to attend conferences where they can meet researchers and professionals from both the academic and business worlds. 

Furthermore, following business blogs, watching podcasts, and reading books are valuable methods to gather new data to make informed decisions. By being part of professional groups on social media and attending conferences, managers and executives can find out in real-time the challenges other leaders face, discuss them, and take on new ideas for implementation as early as the next day. These communities of managers and executives are valuable assets in today’s challenging business environment.

The role of governance in strategy implementation

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin
 

One of the most important factors in running a successful business is strategy implementation, where general, strategic objectives are translated into precise activities that involve bringing ideas to fruition. Operational performance is used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of these activities in achieving strategic goals and objectives. Meanwhile, governance provides the structure and rules needed to monitor performance and achieve objectives, which requires good planning, resource allocation, and management.

Governance mechanisms are critical to guiding, monitoring, and improving strategy planning and execution. Roles and accountabilities should be clear: the board of directors sets the company strategy, goals, and overall direction. Top management ensures the strategy is translated and cascaded to the lower managerial levels. Middle management is critical to ensure the implementation of strategic objectives.

Upon receiving clear direction from the top management, middle managers should also set clear responsibilities and metrics. Metrics should be set to monitor success impartially.  Clear roles and their coordination could also be ensured by appointing a strategy/performance office responsible for overseeing the strategy process, contributing to setting strategic objectives, and coordinating performance measurement. 

Organizational Hierarchy | Source: The KPI Institute – C-KPI Course

The purpose of governance is to ensure that an organization continuously fulfills its mission by coordinating its strategy with its operational goals, procedures, and standards. Procedures and processes are essential to the success of an organization, as these help ensure that resource allocation is done properly, with all stakeholders having a clear role in how the organization’s objectives are achieved. In the case of a company where multiple projects run at the same time in various areas, this is especially important. Confusion, overlap, and miscommunication may arise in these situations, therefore, clear rules, guidelines, and accountabilities should be set up. 

Read More: Two sides, same coin: using divergent and convergent thinking in strategy planning

Reliable, comprehensive financial and non-financial information is at the core of governance, as it serves decision-making. Reporting procedures are crucial to ensure the right processes are set up to disclose the necessary data to the stakeholders, with mechanisms for regular reporting to share performance data and progress updates. Performance reporting is important as it disseminates information, communicates progress, forecasts progress, and updates status to stakeholders.

Moreover, decisions are taken based on the information received, and an organized process for review and decision-making, such as regular strategic review meetings or performance review sessions could be implemented. Periodic performance reviews measured against objectives should be conducted to analyze gaps, identify areas for improvement, and initiate corrective actions.

Governance cannot be properly implemented without the adequate behaviors of people. Since emotions play a large role in shaping behavior, it becomes all the more crucial for leaders to facilitate buy-in from the organization. Leaders should provide trust, guidance, and direction, instilling the necessary behaviors that support the organization’s objectives. Communication should be clear and consistent to provide clear direction.

As resistance is natural given the fear of the unknown or the perceived negative changes, it is important to address employee concerns and provide support. Some of the potential barriers are removed when support is provided to ensure that employees understand the strategy, their roles, and how their performance contributes to strategic objectives.

Read More: The power of change management in strategy execution

In conclusion, governance is indispensable for an organization’s success and reputation. By establishing clear structures, processes, and accountability mechanisms, governance ensures that the company operates in alignment with its objectives, values, and legal obligations. It provides a framework for effective decision-making, safeguarding the interests of shareholders, employees, customers, and other stakeholders. To summarize, governance isn’t merely a corporate formality—it’s the cornerstone of organizational excellence and trust in the modern business world.

For more in-depth articles about strategy, click here.

7 key steps to build a data team from scratch

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Despite the continuous hype around data analytics and the rapid acceleration of data technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), most companies are lagging behind with low data capabilities and no in-house data team in place. These companies have their data either fully unleveraged or marginally analyzed by executives on the side of their jobs to produce limited reports. 

In such a situation, pushing the organization up the hill of data maturity would require building a team of data-specialized personnel. Building such a team can be daunting, as every company would have different conditions and no one way can fit all cases. However, covering the following main grounds can help cut miles on the road to building a data team from the ground up.

First, nurture the environment and plant the seeds. Data teams cannot grow in a vacuum. To prepare the organization to become data-driven with a data team, enhancing the organizational data culture is a good starting point. Having employees at all levels with a data-driven mentality and an understanding of the role of data analytics can significantly prepare the room for the planned team.

Second, connect with stakeholders and recognize priority needs. Carrying out data culture programs inside the organization can open up opportunities to have meaningful discussions with stakeholders on different levels about their data needs, what they already do with data, and what they want to achieve, in addition to having better insights into the pre-existing data assets. This is a good stage to recognize the organization’s data pain points, which would then be the immediate and strategic objectives of the future data team.

Third, define the initial structure of the team. According to the scale of the organization and the identified needs, data teams can have one of three main structures:

  • Centralized: This involves having all data roles within one team reporting to one head, chief data officer (CDO), or a similar role. All departments in the organization would request their needs from the team. This is a straightforward approach, especially for small-size companies, but can end up in a bottleneck if not scaled up continuously to meet the organization’s growing needs.
  • Decentralized: This requires disseminating all data roles and infusing them into departmental teams. This mainly aims to close the gap between technical analysis and business benefits as analysts in every team would be experts in their functional areas. However, the approach may lead to inconsistencies in data management and fragile data governance.
  • Hybrid: This consists of having governance, infrastructure, and data engineering roles within a core team, along with embedding data analysts, business analysts, and data scientists in departmental teams. The allocated personnel would report to the respective department head as well as the data team head. This approach combines the benefits of both centralized and decentralized structures and is usually applicable in large organizations as they require more headcount in their data teams.

Fourth, map the necessary tech stack and data roles. As the previous stages have uncovered the current uses and needs of data in an organization, it should be easier to start figuring out the tech tools that the team would be initially working with. Mapping the needed tech stack would be the first pillar before moving on to the hiring process. The second pillar would involve defining the roles that the team would need in its nascent stage to meet the prioritized objectives.

Several data job titles can be combined in a data team, with many of them having specializations that intersect with or bisect each other. However, there are three main role areas that should be considered for starting data teams:

  • Data engineering: implementing and managing data storage systems, integrating scattered datasets, and building pipelines to prepare data for analysis and reporting
  • Data analysis: performing final data preparation and extracting main insights to inform decision-making
  • Data science: building automated analysis and reporting systems, usually concerned with predictive and prescriptive machine learning models

Fifth, follow step-by-step team recruitment. Hiring new employees for the data team is one option. The other option can be upskilling existing employees with an interest in a data career and with minimum required skills. Even employees with just interest and no minimum required skills can be reskilled to fill some roles, especially within an initial data team.

The team does not need to take off with full wings. It can start small and gradually grow. Typically, data teams would start with data analysts who have extra skills in data engineering, data engineers who have experience with ad-hoc analyses and reporting, or a limited combination of both. In later stages, other titles can join onboard. 

The baby-step-building approach is more convincing for stakeholders as it can be more efficient from a return-on-investment (ROI) perspective. Starting with a full-capacity team may end up being too costly for the organization, which could lead to the budding project being cut off in its prime.

Sixth, deliver ad-hoc analyses, heading towards long-term projects. In the beginning, data analytics experts at the organization would be expected to answer random requests and solve urgent data-related problems, like developing quick reports and reporting on-spot metrics. This is a good point to prove how data personnel can be of direct benefit to the organization.

However, along with delivering said ad-hoc requests, the data team should have strategic goals to enhance and develop the overall data maturity of the organization, like organizing, integrating, and automating the analytics processes and installing advanced predictive models. These long-term projects should foster the organization’s data maturity, which should result in ad-hoc requests being less frequent as all executives should be self-sufficient in using the installed automated reports and systems. In such a data-mature environment, the team would have time to advance their data products continuously, opening up new benefit opportunities.

Seventh, fortify the team’s presence. Strategic projects with shorter implementation periods and more immediate impact should be prioritized over longer ones, especially in the beginning. That would help continuously prove the benefits of the data team and the point of its foundation. Owning the products of the data team by having its name on it can help remind decision-makers of the team’s benefit. In addition, it is highly useful for the data team’s head to have access to top managerial levels to keep promoting the team’s presence and expansion.

Building a data team from scratch requires careful planning, investment, and commitment from organizational leadership. By following these guidelines and adapting them to their specific needs, organizations without prior data capabilities can establish a robust data team capable of driving innovation and offering a competitive advantage through data-driven insights.

How public entities can better communicate strategy to citizens

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Over the recent years since Vision 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been initiated, the massive changes within the operations of government entities have led to a rise of expectations for better communications with the stakeholders to achieve effective citizen engagement. Communication strategies and initiatives have been developed and launched with the initiation of KSA’s Vision 2030 in order to streamline the strategic objectives and clarify the roles of stakeholders and staff as well as identify the target audience and communicate with them more effectively.

To implement the communication strategy of any public entity effectively and efficiently, the communication plans should include what information should be communicated, who should receive that information, when that information should be delivered, and how those communications are tracked. Also, some actions need to be considered within the implementation of communication strategy, such as opening two-way communication means, using technology to streamline the communications, and focusing more on engaging with the audience–not just listening to them and answering.

THE KPI INSTITUTE

The KPI Institute’s 2024 Agenda is now available! |  The latest updates from The KPI Institute |  Thriving testimonials from our clients |