1. View your offerings from outside-in rather than inside-out. From BizzFuse work with dozens of companies, we have seen teams with the best intentions focused too much on the internal processes. They are wrapped up in a type of organizational navel gazing. Many simply don’t know what customers actually go through. What’s needed is a change in viewpoint from inside out to outside-in. Organizations must have a clear understanding of the experiences they create. This is not limited to just frontline personnel. Everyone must empathize with the individuals they serve. In this sense, gaining empathy isn’t only about feeling the same emotions as another person. Instead, it refers to the ability to grasp what others are experiencing, the ability to put you in their shoes. Empathy for others comes with the recognition that their perspective is valid even if it’s different from your own.

       But a little empathy is not enough. Members of the organization must deeply care about their customers and what they experience. They need to internalize people’s desires and motivations, and advocate on behalf of the people they service in everything they do.

2. Align internal functions across teams and levels. Organizational silos prevent alignment. Aligned organizations instead work across functional boundaries. They have a relentless focus on doing whatever it takes to ensure their constituents have great experiences.

      Alignment is not just about superficial improvements. It’s about the collective actions of the entire group, at all levels. An organization’s backstage processes have as much to do with the overall experience as the visible points of interaction that individuals encounter. On his TV show, top chef Ramsay Gordon saves failing restaurants by realigning the whole establishment. He usually starts by fixing the kitchen. He’ll chastise cooks for improper food storage or for having a dirty exhaust hood above the stove. The actions in the kitchen influence the experience diners have.

      Aligned organizations have their kitchen in order. They move together in the same direction for the same cause—to create brilliant experiences. And they don’t focus on parts of the experience. They consider the end-to-end interaction. The sum of local optimizations does not guarantee optimization at the global level. Note that “alignment” is already an inherent part of the business strategy vernacular. Typically managers speak of upward alignment—getting everyone in the organization to work toward a stated strategy from above. My interpretation of the term focuses on value alignment: looking first at the value an organization needs to create from the individual’s perspective, and then figuring out the strategy and technology needed to deliver that value.


3.Create visualizations as shared references. The challenge of alignment lies in the difficulty of seeing interdependencies across the organization. Each department may be functioning fine on its own. But from the users’ perspective, the experience is a patchwork of interactions they have to navigate themselves. Visualizations are a key device to break down siloed thinking. A diagram of the individual’s experience serves as a tangible model for the teams to rally around. More importantly, visualizations allow the viewer to grasp interlocking relationships at once.

     In the story opening this preface, sales managers and customer care agents had separately shared their obstacles and inefficiencies with their managers. But it was not until decision makers could see connected factors that both the problem and the solution became apparent. Reports and slide decks don’t have this causal effect. Visualizations do. But visualizations don’t provide answers outright; they foster conversations. Diagrams are compelling artifacts that draw interest and attention from others in the organization. They are a means to engage others in discourse. Visualizations point to opportunities and serve as springboards into innovation.

     In a broader sense, visualizations inform strategy. They are a key way of seeing the market from the customer’s perspective. Mapping experiences isn’t a nice-to-have design tool; it’s a must-have for strategic alignment. Finally, as practices like lean product development take hold in organizations, the need for alignment only increases. Small, empowered teams need to be on the same page as the rest of the organization. A compelling visualization gets everyone moving in the same direction for the same reasons.

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