Doctors and medical professionals talk about the patient’s vital signs. If you have a medical issue, these professionals have a consistent language used across their profession, measuring each patient’s vital signs: heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and so forth. These vital signs evaluate the patient, and quickly tell any doctor that looks at the chart what’s wrong.
Your business has vital signs, too. If you don’t know what those are, or if your organization is using multiple terms to describe them, then, like a doctor, you can’t diagnose and treat issues when they arise. A company’s Vital Factors are equally core to its function. But what questions do you ask, to get this kind of clarity? And more, once you have it, how do you ensure each factor has a structure of accountability?
A clear strategy starts with the customer. Who are your customers, and what kind of value are you trying to deliver to them? Think about these questions:
- Are my marketing team’s efforts for finding business aligned with our customers’ wants and needs?
- Are my operational resources aligned with the value that we’re trying to deliver to the customer?
- Are the people in the organization setting goals around the most vital parts of their areas of expertise?
Your organization needs trickle-down accountability. If your senior executives and leads all have a vested interest, how do you trickle that sense of accountability down a level, then down another level, all the way to the front lines? Is everyone in the organization setting goals around the specific areas where they’re truly accountable? Are they setting the right goals?
What do your executive leaders think are the most important facets of your company strategy? Is there agreement? Do they feel free to have healthy discussion and debate around those points? And there should be debate – if everyone agrees too easily, they aren’t feeling ownership and accountability. There should be disagreement, even heated discussion around what is vital, and then around who owns each part of the strategy. That way, your company gains alignment and ownership, and begins to learn a common language it can use cross-functionally, one that everyone can immediately understand.