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Vision Alignment in the Digital Age

As organizations mature, often they become silo’d into groups with similar charters but without a process to align their efforts. As a member of a team that is responsible for the overall strategy for of the company’s digital experience, this lack of alignment can cause inefficient resource allocation or worse yet, competing technology platforms. With speed of innovation in the digital space accelerating daily, the risk of misalignment increases exponentially.

In an effort to insure alignment across our organization, we recently led a cross organizational workshop to define and document our vision for what the digital presence of Cisco should become in the year 2017. We brought together over 45wordcloud subject matter experts, from over a dozen teams for a day and a half of interactive design thinking exercises. The exercises focused not on our internal processes, but on how our customers interact with our digital properties. The beauty of design thinking is that it breaks down personal bias in a team and focuses fanatically on the customer experience. By doing this, key themes were defined and agreed to across the teams.

We have all heard these key themes:

  • content is king
  • use of data to increase value to the customer
  • agility over complexity

We all had similar challenges and understood the need to align. Seems easy enough, right?In an organization as large as Cisco, collaboration is critical. In order to drive that collaboration and alignment across the many digital teams, we formed a structure that provided a forum for alignment while keeping governance over the vision that was defined.

We do this through:

  • commitment at the executive level
  • driving agreement of the vision thru a cross-functional steering committee
  • execution is driven through working groups aligned to specific aligned initiatives (such as analytics or partner experience)

The working groups (driving execution) are led by the organization closest to the effort, yet each has representation across several groups to insure alignment across all digital efforts. Each working group is then responsible to report progress to the executive level committees. We continue to build out and refine these processes as needed.

As the working groups have come back with their plans we have noticed the success of this effort was understalign2anding that alignment is not the key issue, all the groups have similar requirements, expectations, KPI’s for success.

The true issue is a forum through which to drive the discussion in an agile fashion to align our digital vision. The expectation of failing fast and failing forward, understanding that the most exciting thing about the digital space is the pace of change and innovation. The journey is more rewarding than the destination, as the destination is always changing.

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