Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Realign your organization to move forward"/ "Think globally, act locally"

Aug. 7, 2017 "Realign your organization to move forward": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:


It’s obviously helpful in organizations for everyone to be heading in the same direction, rather than working at cross purposes. It’s called alignment and we have all heard calls to attain that blessed state but might wonder exactly what it is, where it occurs and how to get there.

Atlanta-based consultant Riaz Khadem – who has a doctorate in applied math and taught at various universities, including Laval in Quebec, before moving into consulting – offers some direction by outlining seven areas in which organizations can develop alignment. You may consider it a checklist for your own workplace’s effectiveness.

  • Focus and direction: People understand and accept the company’s vision and strategy – they all share the same picture of success and how they can contribute to it in measurable terms.
  • Strategy execution: The strategic initiatives are receiving the necessary attention and energy to guarantee effective execution. There isn’t a disconnect between strategy and operations.
  • Vertical: Everybody throughout the organizational hierarchy needs to be aligned with the level above – their boss’s priorities – and ultimately the strategy.
  • Horizontal: Departmental boundaries, rivalries and entrenched, independent silos can prevent people from collaborating freely with peers across the various organizational functions.
  • Competencies: Individual skills need to match the requirements for the person’s responsibilities.
  • Values: Individual behaviour should be congruent with the core values of the company. When it’s not, scandals can occur. You need more than virtuous values; you need to underline their importance to everyone to get alignment.
  • Compensation: Does compensation link to performance or is it out of whack? Are people rewarded for seniority or position in the hierarchy rather than output? At all levels, there should be a connection to performance.
That’s a bundle, more than leaders usually contemplate when they talk about alignment.

“Most organizations are not aligned until something bad happens. Then, when something bad happens, they realize it’s important,” Dr. Khadem, author with his lawyer wife Linda Khadem of the book Total Alignment, says in an interview.

Typically, the most misaligned, he says in the interview, is compensation – glaringly at the top, for chief executives, but also down at the lowest levels of the organization. He suggests a more coherent approach, starting first with the bonus system, as that’s the easiest to change, and then later also with promotions and salaries. But all of the seven areas for alignment are difficult. You need to remove barriers to alignment and put systems in place to fix it.

Tools can also help, such as his vision tree, which involves outlining the many elements of your vision as branches of a tree with the indicators to measure progress as sub-branches.

Many companies, of course, have key performance indicators but often some (or many) of them are not related to the strategy or vision.

An alignment map extends that, a chart rather than a conventional geographical map, with the vision tree in the centre. On the right side are the various strategic initiatives you plan and on the left side the indicators of success.

Again, you need linkage. Strategies need measures of success. Indicators not related to strategy have to be questioned. You also want to make sure you have kept your strategic initiatives to a workable, vital few that clearly relate to customers.

From there, you move on to assign individual accountability. It’s not easy to do, but he simplifies and focuses it by recommending three one-page reports be used:
  • The Focus Report looks at the overall effort at a glance – the various initiatives and indicators, with their status. For example, if you are watching the percentage of customer returns and it was 3 per cent last month, that is recorded so you can compare next month easily. When the status can be evaluated against some agreed-upon criteria, you will also mark if your effort was good or bad.
  • The Feedback Report summarizes the results for your own responsibilities, highlighting where you have fallen below the unacceptable range in status and where you are above the satisfactory level.
  • The Management Report shows how people in your pyramid of responsibility are faring, based on the principle of management by exception. People who are performing within the acceptable range don’t show up on this report as, at this time, they aren’t an issue and you have little to address.
If you want alignment – total alignment – that may help you to achieve it.


"Effective multinational think globally, and act locally": Today I found this article by Shelley Martin in the Globe and Mail:

There was a time when large companies were, for the most part, seen in a positive light – creating jobs, driving economies forward and helping bring together a more unified and connected world. However, in recent years, this perception has changed, and in the current environment, multinationals are facing increased scrutiny.

There is a growing perception that “to be big is bad, and to be small is good.” This is being fuelled by a variety of factors, including a growing antiglobalization movement, anticorporate sentiment among millennials, increasing demands for corporate transparency (and a corresponding view that multinationals are not transparent enough) and a general interest and affinity for all things local, whether it be the 100-mile food rule or clothing and crafts made by local designers.

Today, consumers want to connect with a company and understand its philosophy and point of view. They want to know the organization behind the brand, be aware of the social and environmental impact of the services and products they consume and expect companies to be locally relevant and engaged.

If a company wants social licence to operate beyond its borders, it now needs to communicate what it stands for and, perhaps most importantly, how it’s contributing in a positive way to the communities in which it operates.

To be a successful multinational, a business must meet the demands of various stakeholders, and to do so, there are three considerations that it needs to address. Each is critical in helping the organization create goodwill and establish credibility in local markets; however, each cannot be done in isolation.

The first step for any multinational that seeks social licence across borders is to define and communicate a clear purpose that aligns actions and creates a common goal. It needs to ask itself: Why do we exist?

The answer needs to be simple and explicit. You need to be clear about what you are doing and what you will do – through facts, examples and telling stories in a meaningful and authentic way.

At Nestlé, we have recently redefined our purpose: to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future. This purpose motivates us to offer products and services that enable individuals and families to lead healthier and happy lives, develop thriving and resilient communities and champion sustainable products and consumption. Our purpose really defines who we are and why we exist.

As an organization, you then need to define the values that align with this purpose. This will ensure external and internal audiences understand how the company will behave in a country and the standards to which it will hold itself.

These values “drive” your purpose and need to be tangible and authentic to your people. You also need to provide insight on how the company will live these values.

Aligning globally helps create a unified organization and stronger sense of purpose, and adapting corporate values to local markets will increase their impact. Our values are based on respect – for ourselves, others, diversity and the future, and all our activities reflect this.

The third consideration is centred on local relevance. While there can only be one global purpose for a multinational, activation in regional markets needs to be done through a local filter. Regional needs must be considered and organizational flexibility must exist for tailoring programs; it’s not (and cannot be) a one-sizefits-all proposition.

The company must actively engage the local community and its audiences to listen, learn and adapt. If this does not happen, then the organization risks being seen as tone-deaf and loses relevance and credibility.

For example, we have a global Youth Initiative to help young people gain employment, but the partners we have and the way we execute is tailored to the Canadian work force. Global commitment but local execution. I believe that you can – and must – be both global and local, and in fact, this offers Canadians the best of both worlds.

There’s no question that multinationals are dealing with an increasingly cynical consumer mindset. That’s the reality we face. It’s incumbent on us, if we want to continue to operate in local markets, to earn trust. A well-run multinational, backed by a clear vision and actionable values tailored to local markets, will put itself in a position to succeed.

Global organizations that are committed to transparency have the scale, both globally and locally, to truly make a significant positive impact – whether it is in the quality of the products and services they produce, the jobs they create, their support of local suppliers, their contribution to community initiatives or being responsible stewards on sustainability issues
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Being big doesn’t equate to being bad. It means you have the potential to do great things on a large scale that can enhance the communities in which you live and work.

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