“Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”

If you ask many business owners and leaders what creates success many will allude to the fact that planning is key, but this is just one of the 5 P’s of business success. Instinctively, many business owners also understand the concept of alignment but what does this really mean.  In my conversations with my clients they usually give one of the following definitions.

  • our core purpose, values and mission are aligned with our goals” or
  • “our people understand our values and are aligned with our purpose.”

However, having an aligned business is much more complex than this. Its not just about purpose and people, although that is a great start. You need to ensure you have aligned the other P’s too. This is an area that far too many businesses overlook and yet it can have a massive impact on the ultimate success of the business.

So what are the 5 P’s that impact business today – and these are not the traditional 5 Marketing P’s espoused by Philip Kotler of product, price, place, promotion and people, but rather:

  • Purpose
  • Plans
  • People
  • Processes
  • Playground

Purpose: Few people will argue that having a clear purpose is imperative to a businesses’ success, but now more than ever team members and consumers are demanding that companies start walking the talk and recognise the impact they are having on the environment.

In a recent study by Cone Communications 70% of people consider the social and environmental impact when deciding where to work and 83% of millennials said they would be more loyal and work harder for a purpose driven organisation that is making a real difference in the world and where they feel they are making a contribution. Furthermore 87% of US consumers said they would rather purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.

You can take the purpose test here to find out which of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals you are most closely aligned with

Plans: Having a great purpose that inspires and motivates is just the first step. This purpose then has to be translated into a vision, values and strategy that the entire team can get behind. The purpose will shape the strategy ensuring that the business only pursues activities that align and are congruent with its purpose.

A great example of this is Larry Merlo, the President and CEO of CVS Caremark, a chain of US pharmacy stores, who took the bold decision in 2014 to end the sale of cigarettes in more than 7,600 stores as the sale of tobacco products was inconsistent with the company’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.

People: Richard Branson, Zappos, Unilever and Whole Foods are examples of companies that have made a solid commitment to focus on their purpose, and ensure that through hiring people for attitude rather than competence that they create a culture where the entire team is aligned with the values of the company. Zappos hold the mantra of Hire Slow, Fire Fast as they recognise that if a team member is not committed to their organisation they can be divisi, so the company would rather pay that team members a month’s salary to leave, rather then experience the problems that ensue from disgruntled and dis-engaged team members.

The people agenda, when not fully congruent, can derail the best strategic alignment plan. Do all the touch points of training – hiring, on-boarding, training, leadership development, continuing education – enable your company to fully achieve your goals? Are there areas where this is shortchanged? Will the full execution of your training plan realise your company mission?

Processes: In today’s VUCA world it is essential that business can act in an agile manner. This means that systems and processes need to be flexible to adapt to the myriad of changing situations that leaders and team members find themselves in.

Leaders need to ensure that the work processes and flowcharts are tied into the company purpose? For example, if your company wants to give the best customer experience, is every customer interaction streamlined, or are they bogged down with layers of checks and balances that hinder this goal? Check each and every process constantly to ensure that it works optimally like a well-oiled machine, and supports the team in achieving their goals, rather than hindering the process.

Playground: Playground is the term I use for the internal business environment made up of both the physical space and also the business culture. Do both of these aspects support the growth of the business aligned to its purpose? Is the culture in the business one of blame or do team members take responsibility and are they encouraged to make decisions?. In my experience when team members are working in fear of the consequences of what they do they fail to step up, take decisions and generally abdicate responsibility for what is happening. This can lead to silo group forming who consciously or unconsciously seek to derail the business for their own personal gain.

Getting all these 5 P’s aligned and congruent is imperative for the success for the business, and whilst when one or two are off a bit, the business can still flourish, it is my experience that a business never fully gets into flow until alignment has occurred in all these areas.

Take the analogy of driving a car. You can drive it when one or two of the wheels are misaligned, but the drive is not as smooth, it takes more effort and you use up more gasoline making driving the drive more expensive, both now and in the future.

There are considerable benefits of creating an aligned organisation, as you create a business where no time, energy or resources are wasted. And the result to the business are the 3 P’s of successful alignment:

  • Performance
  • Productivity
  • Profitability

and what business would not want to achieve that.

I encourage you to examine what areas of your businesses are mis-aligned and not supporting your company purpose, and then work on bringing them back into alignment.

And of course if you need any assistance please feel free to connect with me and lets have a conversation to explore what is possible for your business because the result of creating an aligned business is considerable and will help your business stand out above the rest.

Julia Felton (aka The Business Wrangler) is a thought leader, author, international speaker, business strategist and Horse Assisted Educator. She works with ambitious, forward thinking business leaders who want to challenge the status quo and grow their business to the next level through developing skills that enable them to lead on-the-hoof, in todays uncertain environment.

As the Chief Experience Officer at Business HorsePower, she helps business leaders wrangle (round-up) all their business resources – plans, people, processes and personal leadership – so everything becomes aligned in its own business ecosystem. The results are leaders that have impact and influence and businesses which are purpose-driven, productive and profitable.

Julia’s innovative programmes are inspired by nature and her herd of horses, where no time or energy is wasted. Everything works in perfect harmony as an ecosystem. However, as Julia experienced during her 20 plus years of leading global teams and building a multi-million dollar business unit, this is rarely the norm.

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