Human Capital Management Initiatives: Purpose, Strategy, Communication

May 20, 2016


From where we sit at the intersection between technology and people, we sometimes feel like the Chief Engineer on a ship. We can get you going faster, better and cheaper, but we don’t steer the ship -- and we don’t know where it is going until we ask.

And we always do. Knowing where you want to go and how you will get there should be the first question in any technology project. It’s not enough to be more efficient and effective. An arrow without aim will miss its target no matter how well the archer draws the bow.

What brought this to our attention today is Harvard Business Review’s questions in A Simple Way to Test Your Company's Strategic Alignment:

  1. “How well does your business strategy support the fulfillment of your company’s purpose?
  2. How well does your organization support the achievement of your business strategy?” [1]

The authors don’t tell us what the remedy is if your company is not aligned. For good reason -- it is unique to each organization.

Start with Purpose

An organization’s purpose is the reason it exists. Some say that a company’s purpose is to make a profit, but the past century has taught us that without a purpose beyond profit, companies stagnate and lose momentum. Those that pursue only the next quarter’s results will eventually be swallowed by more purposeful firms.

Here are some of our favorite examples:

  • Amazon: “… to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
  • Zappos: "To provide the best customer service possible."
  • Pfizer: “Innovate to bring therapies to patients that significantly improve their lives.”

Strategy is the Road Map

Purpose is the why in the alignment equation. Strategy is the who, what, where, and when. It is the financial and operational detail of how your organization will achieve its aim.

Strategic alignment is the linking of organization’s structure and resources (including people and technology) to the strategy.

So, strategic alignment is one of the first considerations in a human capital management initiative. It is the basis for everything we do. However, It can only happen if you have foundational alignment between strategy and purpose. Once that happens, the rest is a matter of communication – and that is where it gets complicated.

Change Management Strategy

Aligning processes and technology to strategy is almost pro forma. If your company needs to double the number of engineers in three years, you will make sure you have an efficient recruiting process and the technology to support it.

Aligning people to strategy is difficult in the best of times. It takes a constant creation and nurturing of a communication culture.

While we encourage a change management and communication plan for every human capital management initiative, we invite you to think of it in the larger context. Everyone in your organization needs to know their individual purpose and how it relates to organizational purpose and strategy.

Let us show you a few things to think about when you create your plan.

  • Start early. We have seen projects where the team didn’t start communicating to everyone until just before launch, then wondered why they met so much resistance. People need time to get used to a change. An excellent way to do that is to ask people around the organization, informally, what they think a new process should look like. Collate their opinions and communicate how you incorporated their feedback in the design.
  • Publish progress reports. Let people know how it is going, what to expect, and when.
  • Grant as many people as possible access to a sandbox. Let people play around and talk with each other and your team about what they found.
  • Understand that the communication plan doesn’t stop at launch time. It goes on until it melds into the next wave of change.

Create a plan for your initiative, but use it to grow your change management and communication effort into “the way things get done around here.” It will become a part of your culture.

References :

[1] Trevor, Jonathan, and Barry Varcoe. "A Simple Way to Test Your Company's Strategic Alignment." Harvard Business Review. May 16, 2016.

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.


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