Most of us have had an experience of trying to organise something that requires the agreement of a group of people. It could be going to see a movie, choosing a holiday destination, cooking a meal. It could also be organising office space as part of a move, engaging a team to a new objective, merging two functions into one. It could also be working with a group of stakeholders in theory to a shared objective where alignment is the key to success.
In all these instances, from the most prosaic to the most complex, human beings slide between being defensive about their own needs/wants/desires, to being constructive about the shared goal and what it might deliver. The clearer the goal and the more engaged people are in shaping it, the less of their personal agenda is likely to interfere. The more opaque the goal, the more people (despite great good will) will devolve to defending their personal vested interests, or the interests of the stakeholders they separately represent.
There are eleven keys to aligning community, keys that are essential particularly when you are working with volunteer communities or multiple stakeholders from a variety of organisations/vested interests.
1. What’s wrong now – part one
Am I really clear (if I am initiating collaborative action)/are we really clear (if a group is initiating collaborative action), on the problem we are addressing. Crucial not to lose sight of the challenge being addressed in the ‘rah rah’ style of action that insists on selling a vision in the absence of a grounding cause.
2. What’s wrong now – part two
This needs early alignment – everyone having a stake in analysing and aligning around the problem they’ve come together to solve/resolve. This sounds obvious but actually requires patience on the part of the initiating group or leader (don’t over sell).
3. Create the purpose together
Even if you know what you want to do, allow the collective to shape this with you; this is how you generate ownership rather than obedience.
4. What’s important to us – how we will behave together
Take quality time to align on agreed behaviours before rushing into planning. This is about a base line of values (and clear articulation of the behaviours that should be visible) between people.
5. Legs of the chair – how the purpose begins to be translated
Vision/purpose are always in the future; can you all articulate the 2 – 4 things that will connect where you are now to where you want to be (goals, strategic objectives, key areas of focus).
6. Forces for good and evil
Take time (before getting into operational detail) to identify, based on the goal and the key strategies if we want to be successful, what is actually going to work for us, and what is going to work against us.
7. Work out who’s good at what
Check the talent, don’t be defensive, don’t try and get everyone to do everything (and leaders in particular need to know their own strengths and limitations (without ego).
8. The Gym Program – operational plan
Mostly just notice this is Number 8, NOT number 2; you know how to do this; it’s what exactly needs to be done, who will do it and by when (trick – by when is 31/10/14 – not ‘by the end of the week’) – specific responsibility and dates enable you to hold each other to account.
9. Reality check
The bread and butter of planning – for this plan to eventuate (the ideal) what resources and money and time are required; cut the plan according to what’s possible, but start with the ideal.
10. Mark achievements
Remember not to be obsessive about what remains to be done, or isn’t being done, or isn’t being done as you wished; take time to celebrate effort and small milestones – it’s the back bone of motivation.
11. Are we on track
Make this part of regular review; the more often you review your plan (a) the more readily it can be refined and (b) the more easily you can hold yourself and others to account.
Then go back and do 1 – 11 all over again, for the next cycle of the vision/ambition.
Refine, plan, act.
This is the Forever Strategic Wheel.