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Business Examples of Organizational Alignment

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.


Business Examples of Organizational Alignment

By P.J. Malone

If you are still struggling with the idea of organizational alignment, you are not alone. Many businesses, large and small, fail to align the various components of their organization in such a way as to ensure success. Nevertheless, let’s try to fix that with practical examples.

Here are two business examples of organizational alignment:

The first is from fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s organization. One of the first things he did fifty years ago was to bring sales people into the design process. He was seen as the first to do this in his industry.

Specifically, he invited the individuals selling his clothing to the retailers to meet with his design teams before they designed clothing for the upcoming season. This step ensured that the design ideas would be ‘sellable’. 

Sales people would share their insights with the design teams based on feedback from the customers on customers’ desires. That way, the teams were sure to design clothing that customers wanted which guaranteed NYGARD’s business objectives and goals for that year would be achievable.

In this example, sales insights were lined up with product development, which were lined up with business objectives. 

Based on the Harvard Review article’s important questions on organizational alignment, here’s how NYGARD stacked up: NYGARD’S purpose of offering clothing that women would feel good in and would want to wear lined up with his strategy of forming cross functional teams to deliver on clothing that achieved the purpose. As far as the capability of his teams are concerned, that is demonstrated in his fifty years of continued success.

Another simple example of organizational alignment relates to Starbucks and a strategy that was observed. The interesting thing is that the strategy they employed could have been used to accomplish their business purpose or any of the following immediate business objectives:

  • Increase sales of baked goods
  • Increase sales overall
  • Improve customer service

So what did Starbucks do?

A cleanly attired (clean apron) associate walked around Starbucks with an attractive tray of delicious-looking bites of coffee cake and offered a free sample to each customer using the words, “Hi, would you like to try our coffee cake?” accompanied with a smile of course.

Besides the enticing look of the coffee cake, the young man’s demeanor made you want to try it. And if you did, it would likely make you march up to the cashier to purchase coffee cake.

This strategy of offering free samples to customers sitting in Starbucks would have lined up with any of the above objectives. The young man’s ability to carry it out with professionalism and a pleasant and inviting approach demonstrated the capability of their human resources to support the strategy (if the young man was the standard) and showed that the staff’s behavior lined up with the business strategy and objectives.

Whether one or ten people got up to purchase coffee cake, any additional sale is an additional sale. Even if no customers purchased coffee cake on that day, they may purchase coffee cake on another day, or at the very least, feel a sense of Starbucks’ good will offering them a delicious bite no matter how small.

This example demonstrates that the simplest strategy can improve sales and or improve customer service. And, it’s barely costing Starbucks anything, unless you consider a few pieces of coffee cake cut up in bite sizes costly.

Stay tuned for another example of organizational alignment that had a major impact on sales. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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