One of the biggest challenges for companies is aligning their priorities across the entire organization. As a leader, you need the right people working on the right things at the right time in order to move your strategy forward—so how do you do that?!
We’ve seen that the companies who do this the best use at least one of these three proven models for successful cross-functional planning:
1. Team Planning
This model works best for two teams who overlap and depend on each other heavily for successful execution (for example: Sales + Marketing or Product + Support). These two teams have to be highly coordinated on which projects to do, due dates, success criteria, etc. Failing to align properly at the beginning of the quarter could result in expensive re-work, wasted time and resources, and, of course, frustration.
The first step is for the executive team to complete the company’s quarterly plan. This helps departments prioritize work. Each department then completes their quarterly plan. The final step is for the two cross-functional teams to share their plans with each other. They need to make sure they are aligned on the details of execution: due dates, Red Yellow Green success criteria, who owns what, etc.
2. Shared Resource Planning
This model works best for departments who are shared resources internally (for example: the HR team or the IT team). All departments need something from those internal teams. How does your organization prioritize that work and protect bandwidth of those teams?
The first step for this model is also for the executive team to complete the company's quarterly plan. Once the company’s top priorities are clear, all of the departments can construct their own plans. In some larger companies, a representative from HR will join each team’s planning session to gain understanding of their needs.
In smaller organizations, all team leaders will meet after departmental planning to help prioritize work for shared teams. In this scenario, each team leader can make a case for what they need. Ultimately, decisions should be made based on what is most important to do in order to move the company plan forward. This takes some negotiation and prioritization, and everyone should ultimately support the final plan. A leader might not get all of the items they requested, but they should come away with an understanding of why certain goals were chosen over others.
3. Project Planning
In this model, planning is done around a project that involves multiple people from multiple departments. For example, if the top company priority is to launch a new product, this would involve people from the product, support, marketing, sales & delivery teams. Everyone would need to be aligned around the details of execution—due dates, who owns what, success criteria, etc.
This planning event can happen anytime after the company's plan is complete. Each player would come away from the cross-functional Project Planning Session with a list of priorities. Each team member then completes their planning session with their department, taking into account what they agreed to during Project Planning.
Slowing down and taking the time to achieve extreme alignment across the organization is paramount to lightning-fast execution. It is the only way to avoid waste and expensive rework, which is well worth the investment!
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