In this guest post, Think Partnership’s senior consultant Marley Wirz (pictured below) says strategic alignment is the key to sustainable, long term positive change…
Lead image photo is of Think Partnership’s CEO and Founder Amelia Dixon.
Over the years we’ve spent working with organisations we’ve recognised a recurring theme: there is often a disconnect between those who are making decisions about what needs to be done and those who have to communicate it. It happens because of the barriers that often exist between policymakers and comms teams, or marketing teams and their internal stakeholders and external partners. Although important, success cannot be achieved by the formulation of insights and strategy alone. There is a real need with clients, from all backgrounds, who have been assailed by qualitative analytics and modelling platforms to knit all the pieces together from a human perspective first.
Which is why we’ve developed our approach to put strategic alignment at the centre of any project. Simply put, this often means increasing the touchpoints we have with people on any given project. We facilitate interviews, workshops and purpose alignment throughout the life of a project; from objective setting through to strategy. This approach overcomes barriers, like miscommunication, varying agendas or objectives and aligns people behind a single, unified strategy. This process more often than not requires an outside body to ask the hard questions and allow people space where they can be honest about their interpretation of the task at hand.
As we’ve watched the world change drastically over the last four months, the application of strategic alignment to help further worthy projects has been increasingly front of mind. The global impact of COVID-19 has been horrific. In comparison, Australia has been immensely fortunate, but it has shifted the way people work. There have been upsides, many have discovered the benefits of working flexibly. But there have also been negative consequences. Gender equality has slid backwards, with women bearing the brunt of the changes; taking on more of the domestic load and significantly losing ground in the workplace. According to WGEA, women’s labour force participation rate has decreased 2.9 percentage points, compared to men’s which has decreased by 1.9.
Gender equality is an issue that we at Think are particularly passionate about shifting the dial on. With the momentum that has come from the passing of the Gender Equality Act 2020 (legislation that mandates government and public sector organisations produce Gender Equality Action Plans), we have been thinking about how important it is to get these things right.
Strategic alignment is key to sustainable, long term positive change in this space. Committing to understanding your people and building empathy for existing attitudes and behaviours will produce far more meaningful and intersectional training. Taking organisational gender policy from the proverbial ticking-a-box to cementing a culture that people understand and have ownership over.
Which is why in 2020, we’re turning our attention to partnering with organisations to get these action plans right. We want to make sure our country’s most important organisations aren’t just defaulting to outdated unconscious bias training that hasn’t changed in 25 years. There will be unique, knotty challenges for each organisation, which is why this process needs to be in partnership and needs to be an evolving change trajectory, rather than a templated solution. In consultation with gender equality accelerator Seat at the Table, we are finessing our strategic alignment approach to include a process of empathetically evaluating and working with organisations, to unearth alignment between performance improvement and improved gender equity outcomes. Ultimately, this will deliver more successful action plans and create space for gender equality to move forward once again.
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