Verax International Ltd

Helicopters and the Aligned Organisation


As Prince William’s Search & Rescue duties come to an end, helicopters are in the news. Even without him, as the winter weather draws in we will hear much about the derring-do of the Search and Rescue helicopter crews around our shores and high ground.


Helicopter pilots are able to scan what is happening, encompassing the total context of climate, environment etc. When trouble is spotted the pilot can descend, focus on the problem, sort it out and resume their overview again.


Some time ago, it was recognised that scanning and focusing, “helicoptering”, was a key skill needed for a strategic leader. It is this capability that ensures that the business is aligned, for the organisation structure, systems and processes, leadership etc, to be all pulling in the same direction, namely the achievement of strategic objectives.


It is this skill that means each employee has a clear line of sight between their objectives, their department’s goals and the organisation’s strategy. In other words this is key if organisations are to “get it all together” in order to operate both efficiently (i.e. at lowest cost) and effectively (achieving the organisation’s strategic objectives).


It is this image that, we believe Peter Drucker had in mind when he described organisations as in a tension of “differentiation and integration” i.e. the separate functions, departments, teams, systems etc but aligned and joined up to achieve the organisation’s strategy. It is this image that, we believe, Tony Blair had in mind when he promised to create “Joined-up Government” in the early days of his premiership.




Of late we have seen a lot of “differentiation” and little “integration”. During the last 5 years or so there has been huge emphasis on “efficiency” i.e. driving out cost. But much of this has been done piecemeal – things done in isolation – with only a passing nod at integration or achieving goals other than cost cutting.


Headcounts have been cut – and remaining employees have been expected to pick up the pieces.


Systems and Processes have been examined, re-designed, made “more efficient” i.e. less costly to run, but often with little regard to the effect on output nor how they would be integrated into various roles/jobs etc. We still (especially in the public sector) measure employees spending more than half their working week on non-value added work.


Managers have been allocated coaches with the agenda largely set by the managers themselves. “Coaching” has been so shrouded in the “secrets of the confessional” that little is known about what has gone on, nor the benefits for the organisation.


Much training and development has been focused on individual needs indentified by annual appraisals etc – with little thought given to the impact on organisational results.


Leadership courses have been organised and run almost in an academic vacuum with a “one size fits all” assumption.


Recruitment has often been done on the basis of technical skills and/or a prediction of broad patterns of behaviour that fitted. – But fitted what? – either some HR notion of what was expected (in the past) or the average profile of existing employees?


Where is the “joined-upness” of this?




Taking a helicopter view of organisations, there are very specific factors that need to be aligned with the strategy and with each other.


If you deal with each in a piecemeal way there will be no alignment between them and results achieved will not be balanced, nor in line with strategic objectives.


The impact of each of these factors on the business results can be measured and analysed. So you can see, for example, precisely what leaders need to do and the extent they need to do it, if the organisation is to achieve its strategic objectives. You can see how efficient each business process needs to be in order to achieve your strategic results etc.


If you want to ensure highly efficient (minimal cost, maximum focus) organisational or culture change from the big picture down to the specific details, talk to us.


For more information about how to get a helicopter view of your organisation, ensure alignment of your culture, leadership, systems and people – and a calculated financial ROI to boot, contact us now on telephone 01256 395050.

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