How to Reach Your Full Potential with an Alignment Map
Many businesses suffer from inefficiencies and a lack of productivity. Both of these issues can significantly hinder profitability. Poor profit margins stifle growth. What can you do about it? Implement an effective business strategy alignment map to reach your full potential. We use a business strategy alignment model called an Alignment Map.
The thing is, it requires your organization to think and act differently. Productively.
Table of Contents
- How to Reach Your Full Potential with an Alignment Map
- Product/Market Fit
- Organization/Market Fit
- Finance/Market Fit
Productivity and Your Organization
Insanity has been described as the impulse to keep doing the same thing over and over again in the hope of getting a different result. Innovation, in contrast, is applying a minuscule, ingenious twist to the exact same thing in order to achieve a better outcome. The true definition of creativity is knowing how to inject just the right amount of madness into a process so that you attain your goal. To gain insights to the improvements you can master, learn how to reach your full potential with an Alignment Map.
The gift of awareness is a gift we first give ourselves, then share with others. Once you understand what’s happening behind the scenes, then you can do something about it. When you don’t know what’s broken how are you going to fix it?
The bad news? You’ve got to take a seriously long, hard look at your assets – what you have to work with – and see things for what they are.
That includes #1) your product / service offering, #2) your organization and #3) your financial resources and analytic tools.
You may want to conduct a brand audit with an alignment map.
Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Your business is the same. Don’t pretend your weak links don’t exist or that something or someone can make up for the liability. It can’t. Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. It’s the only viable path to take.
But it still doesn’t ensure success.
If you want better results you’ve got to address performance weakness in your business. It exists, and it’s hurting you in a number of ways.
The good news? This is where opportunities live.
What’s at stake while problems persist? You are missing opportunities. And that’s always bad news.
This process will show you how to assess performance weakness in your business with an Alignment Map.
The good news? An Alignment Map can help you reach your full potential.
And this means you can design solutions that become strengths, even disruptors that give you an edge.
Even the most savvy business leaders have a hard time wrapping their heads around persistent weaknesses that impact productivity and profitability. Diagnosing precisely where weaknesses are, and what’s causing your problems is only the first step towards finding improvements that work. Finding and implementing improvements that work and scale takes innovative thought, trial and error and more than anything, a willingness to fail.
Either there’s a problem you have but don’t want, or there’s a result you want but don’t have.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when problems persist in your business.
It’s not what you thought when you started out on this journey. But do you know what went wrong? Did you make assumptions that inevitably led you here, or did something change along the way?
Either way, it’s likely time to come up for air and get perspective on your position and direction by implementing a business strategy alignment process. An alignment map.
Prepare an Alignment Map
By assessing your goals, resources, processes and analyses you can gain valuable insights on your strategy and the tactics that will take you to the next level—the result is an alignment map.ALIGNMENT-MAP-2021
Managing a deep to-do list in a given functional area is one thing; managing a number of tasks across unrelated initiatives is something altogether different.
At the moment, you’re likely handling a bunch of semi-unrelated projects all of which have their own detailed tasks that need to be completed. Whether it’s a matter of expanding sales. Developing or launching a new product. Acquiring a business. Or improving employee productivity and satisfaction, there are more than a few things competing for your attention.
If you’re not organized, I can almost guarantee that something will fall through the cracks
That’s why I recently developed what I call an Alignment Map. In an alignment map you rank the condition of your product / market fit, your organization fit and your financial fit to identify what’s keeping you from reach your objectives. It will also help you scale. Every business has two top priorities: 1) sustainable revenue growth and 2) quality of earnings.
I’ve found that the alignment map’s value is two-fold. First, it provides a solid visualization of everything you have on your plate and the relative complexity of each initiative.
Second, it helps you cut back on some of the less important tasks you have on your to-do lists. By visualizing each sub-task, you can easily identify duplicated tasks, tasks that can be delegated effectively or areas for efficiencies. It also helps you to focus only on the essential items, lest your alignment map become overly burdensome.
Organic & Strategic Value
Plotting your journey with an alignment map will arm you with deep understanding of how to avoid avoidable troubles and improve your chance of success while transcending the cycles of your business’ life, as follows:
No matter where you are on your life cycle curve an alignment map will be a valuable tool to keep you on track for the next growth step. Startup and early stage businesses have the highest levels of support needs including product development, preparing a fantastic pitch deck to attract financing, a team of diverse, capable and intelligent heavy lifters, and expertise in finance to prepare achievable financial projections, manage cash carefully and know how to put an accurate cap table together to records who owns what.
Traction and growth stage companies have other priority needs more closely aligned to product evolution, process optimization, revenue expansion and profit management. Executives in these stages often expect different results from the repetition of activities their staff have been repeating for years and years. Peter Drucker wrote “the only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”
Over the years, I’ve discovered a few secrets that have helped me jump start my productivity when feeling overwhelmed.
Cognitive Load – what’s keeping you from the right solutions?
Another tip is to honestly prioritize your goals and acknowledge the things that can cause you to become distracted.
As an entrepreneur, it’s all-too-easy to feel like everything on your plate is a top priority. Of course, if everything is a priority, nothing is.
Instead, I’ve developed a prioritization matrix that ranks tasks based on three factors: time, effort, and strategic importance.
There are certain things, such as preparing for a shoot date or conference, which have natural deadlines outside of your control. These time-constrained initiatives are easy to deal with since they’re somewhat out of your control.
Here’s a look at the importance of disciplined finance:ALIGNMT-Disciplined-Corporate-Finance-2021
Do you consider efficiency, productivity and profitability a function of good business alignment?
What I mean by alignment is (1) your product and/or service really solves a problem and is in increasing demand, (2) your organization has the right people in the right positions to execute on an increasingly productive basis, and (3) your financial condition improves over time.
At its core, business alignment is a measure of your competitive edge. Your competitive edge is a measure of your sustainability and value.
This brings us to the three fundamental focal points of all organizations:
- Product/Market Fit
- Organization/Market Fit
- Finance/Market Fit
When your products and/or services truly solve a problem or relieve a pain point the sale is made more easily. You generate revenue and have some insight to forecasting because you understand how internal and external variables impact your ability to market, sell and fulfill.
Knowing your customer is a must have.
Having the right people, with the right skills, in the right places gives you a competitive advantage. Just like in team sports.
Not having the right team is one of the top three reasons businesses fail. The other two are “no market need” and “running out of cash”. The right team, however, is much more difficult to assemble than most founders, CEOs and investors may recognize. Great people, doing what they are passionate about at an average to good employer, are unlikely to join your mission if it means uncertainty. It’s just too risky. What are the chances you are going to succeed, being the most attractive alternative?
If you don’t have the money, or your company just doesn’t have the traction to hire a full team, then no amount of convincing or delusion can change your situation. That’s why a world of outsourcing options are available—everyone from highly skilled freelancers to management consultants to serve as your outsourced CFO.
There are also plenty of process-oriented jobs worth outsourcing. For example, for most businesses, operations management and admin work is a necessity, but those skills can be plug-and-play. When you’re not sure how to optimize these or have a limited budget, consider outsourcing them.
Which jobs require commitment, innovation or unique leadership? Hire for those positions and develop those team members first. They’re key to survival and they’ll often help you avoid redundancy and a bloated staff later on. They’ll also propagate culture consistency with like-minded growth development. For example, in a product-based business, the person who created the product ideally can also manage the sales and assist with marketing. After all, who else knows the product better?
In growth there is never one model that works for every business. But it can usually boil down to this: Everyone on your team should play a key role in pushing your business forward. Everything on the outside should amplify your efforts.
So many CEOs are overly focused on sales. Sure, a CEO is an organization’s visionary, and sales are critical; revenues are a company’s life force. But problems are all too likely to arise when an organization’s attention can’t get beyond revenue alone. Every single number on both the income statement and the balance sheet are inter-related; no financial figure is ever in a vacuum.
If you don’t save some portion of your revenue, you won’t last. Profits responsibly reinvested in your organization should be focused on strengthening it. Positive cash flow from operations is the only resource to improve your financial condition in the long run.
Without a healthy balance sheet, your company could hit serious solvency hurdles that may hinder your ability to grow. If you want to position your company for success learn how to design and implement a custom financial planning and analysis program.
The most powerful people are those armed with facts, data and ethics.
The more you understand your financial statements and the most relevant operating KPIs, the more prepared you will be to know not only what happened (accounting and the past), but what’s happening (finance and the future) and to make great things happen.