Driving an Aligned Organization
Aligning an organization’s people, processes, and technologies is an essential principle to driving the highest sustainable value from the goods and services provided by that organization in the marketplace.
We believe most rational companies know this.
So where does good policy fit with this necessary alignment? And when a company decides to grow, evolve, or transform itself as part of its enterprise strategy, how could obsolete policies stall the transformation?
Using a transformation as a catalyst for policy upgrades can yield potential benefits to an organization.
What is Policy?
Policies are part of a set of governing statements that define the principles, values, and intent of the organization as a foundation for decision-making and the allocation of resources. Policies are informed by a company’s strategy, by its risks, and by externally-imposed laws, regulations, standards, and social norms. Policies are most effective when they are:
- Clear, accurate, and relevant.
- Actively and consistently used as part of an effective governance and decision-making framework.
- Understood and accessible by those who need to follow them.
From time to time, we review and develop policy for clients of various sizes and levels of maturity in private, public, and not-for-profit industries. Even before a company begins a transformational project, there are often issues with the policy environment. Here are some of the common ones.
Policy Governance is Not mature
The procedures to identify the need for new policies or changes to policies, develop annual work plans, research and develop policies, align them, and have them approved are often not well-established, leading to conflicting policies, siloes and fragmentation in the policy environment, and misalignment from the organization’s strategies and changes in outside environment.
Not Effective – Not Followed – Lots of Exceptions
Policies that do not reflect the needs and direction of the organization, or are not consistently applied, or are ignored without checks and balances can contribute to poor delivery of the organization’s core mission and drive other risks and potential penalties.
Riddled with Procedural Language
Often policies are written too prescriptively without room for interpretation and flexibility. Authors of policy are often tempted to include detailed procedural steps and standards which should be covered in other more tactical governance documents.
Written in Legal-Speak / Language is too Heavy
Lewis Eisen, lawyer, and author of Rules, (lewiseisen.com) is an emerging business partner of Blue Monarch Management. He is an international speaker and trains organizations in how to write respectful, progressive, clear, and useful policies. We had an opportunity to attend one of his training sessions at an information governance conference in San Diego late 2023, where he shared his best practices in removing ambiguity in policy language for organizations trying to drive improvements in acceptance and adoption of policies. He upgraded our own thinking to separate policy development from policy communication. Previously, we had worked with our clients to develop simple, clear policies without ambiguity, legal speak, and passive language. He coached around separating the policy development work, which should be accurate, factual, and often tailored towards specialists in a particular topic (read: may be inherently complex) and the communication work to make policy direction accessible and understood by those who need to follow them.
Thriving organizations are dynamic and may be working in hot industries that experience constant change and disruption from competitive pressures, investment, and regulations. It is natural for policies to drive out of alignment from the strategic direction a company is taking or needs to take. A strong policy governance capability of any company should include ongoing surveillance of drivers that might influence a need for new or changed policies. Many companies do not have this mature practice of ongoing policy review and surveillance, resulting in policies that do not reflect their current direction.
Business Transformation: a Trigger for Policy Review
When an organization plans a transformation initiative, the impacts from the changes will most certainly drive a need to review and upgrade policies.
The Essence of a Business Transformation
The essence of a business transformation is to change ‘what works needs to be done and why’. A transformational initiative is a strategic investment by an organization to build capacity, introduce new capabilities, drive out cost, reposition the company into new markets, manage an acquisition, or to take advantage of emerging technologies. Transformation initiatives are not always enterprise-wide, but they are, by design, intended to have a significant impact. When companies invest time, energy, funds, and skill into changing how work is done, those initiatives will create ripples across the company…and policies will certainly need to be changed.
Benefits from Upgraded Policies
When policies are upgraded during a transformational change initiative, companies may benefit from:
- Easier and more complete adoption of the changes.
- Better return on investment from the transformation initiative.
- Sustained change without reverting back to ‘the old ways’.
- Higher productivity and lower costs (by removing churn from policy related decisions)
- Greater potential for the company to achieve its strategic goals.
- Improved risk profile for the company.
Want to know more?
Our advisors can talk with you about your policy environment and how to manage your organizational change or development work.