In a McKinsey Quarterly article entitled “The Social Side of Strategy”, authors Arne Gast and Michele Zanini tout the benefits of strategic crowdsourcing; i.e. a corporation opening up its strategic planning discussions to a wide range of employees.
It’s an interesting idea, particularly with respect to the authors’ claim that it boosts organizational alignment. According to Gast and Zanini, “One thing we and our colleagues have seen over and over again through our work is that many organizations struggle with strategic alignment: even at the healthiest companies, about 25 percent of employees are unclear about their company’s direction. That figure rises to nearly 60 percent for companies with poor organizational-health scores.”
That is consistent with our research into the reasons why stalled, stuck or stale companies tend to remain stalled, stuck or stale. In our practice, we repeatedly find that a lack of alignment is the No. 1 issue that needs to be dealt with prior to re-establishing healthy growth. Without it, even the best laid plans will go askew. To the extend that crowdsourcing is one way to achieve alignment, good for it.
The most important thing is to neither ignore nor neglect a lack of alignment, which can manifest itself in a variety of (sometimes subtle) ways. The downsides to misalignment are clear; on the upside, McKinsey’s research shows that companies in the top quartile of alignment are twice as likely to have above-median financial performance.
If you’re unsure about your own organization’s alignment, take this quick, simple self-diagnosis. Within about 60 seconds you’ll get a sense of how well aligned your company is. If you see a problem, it may actually be good news. Recognition is the first step in setting things straight.