Create One Organizational Heartbeat

It’s often underestimated how important it is to keep communicating regularly about your teams ambition and goals. What we see is that when an Alignment Canvas is freshly created, it’s on top of mind and everybody can still recall it. Then, when the actual work starts it tends to get pushed back to the background.

This is why it is good practice to create something that we like to cal, an ‘Organizational Heartbeat’. One rhythm throughout the whole organization where canvasses and progress is reviewed. Teams itself often already have their own rhythm in which meetings take place. An agile team could work in sprints for instance. But when you need to align multiple teams an organizational heartbeat can help.

In those sessions questions should be asked:
– Zooming out, how is the team doing? 
– Are we still moving towards our ambition? 
– Are the goals still relevant, or do we need to change something?

This rhythm is also often referred to as ‘Operating Rhythm’ in the circles of agile or Six Sigma

A while ago, when working on an agile transition. The task was to reorganize three separate departments, sales, consultancy and support, in teams focused on customers in a specific target group. During this transition we focused on creating guidelines, define structures and set a rhythm.

To make sure teams reflect on their progress and results and improve their ways, we implemented an organizational heartbeat. Every month all teams have an update moment planned. During these moments teams go over their goals and do a quick update on the progress. Is there something to celebrate? Are there any new insights? Then every quarter, there is an extended session where the teams get together to see if they are still on track to reach their goals and re-calibrate.

This rhythm creates an environment that involves everybody in the direction and results of the team. Even employees that are typically not working in the office, but on the road to customers can be part of this rhythm and be aligned on where things are heading. This is a nice opportunity to provide each other with feedback and everyone stays in touch with global strategy and the ambition of the team. It creates a shared purpose.

shared purpose

It’s great to notice that more organizations are saying goodbye to old-fashioned hierarchical structures where managers tell employees what to do and how. When teams get the freedom and autonomy to structure their own work, often great things happen. It leverages the potential of employees and customers notice. But don’t forget, in such an environment it becomes increasingly important to share the purpose, the Why, of the organization and get back to it often. Keep broadcasting the vision and goals and teams will follow.

A high performing organization aligns the efforts of all teams that own their part. A clear operating rhythm, and organizational heartbeat, that is felt throughout the entire organization can be a powerful and structured way to reach this.

The Alignment Canvas Supports an Organizational Heartbeat