Trying to tighten the linkage between business strategy and operations on either the organizational or individual leadership level?
If so, don’t just talk “alignment.”
Instead, emphasize the importance of knitting a “golden thread” throughout everything you do. The thread connects all of the operational elements to the strategy and provides you with a clearer line of sight to what you’re trying to achieve.
This figurative expression was a favorite of the late David Nadler, the founder of Delta Consulting Group.
Over the years, golden thread has fallen out of favor, which is a shame. It’s a descriptive, brain-friendly term that’s easy to grasp and recall.
What makes “golden thread” so brain-friendly? It’s visual, figurative and pithy ─ all things that grab our attention and help us remember. Also, the term has Biblical roots, which gives it an extra stickiness for some.
At the macro level for organizations, under David’s tutelage, we’d work with leaders and their employees to weave a golden thread throughout the tasks, structure, and culture so employees would have and then understand the strong, valuable ties that bound them and their work together, always with the goal of improving performance and fulfilling the organization’s strategy.
Over the years, I’ve also used the golden thread with coaching clients to link their thinking, conversations and actions to help them achieve their goals faster. This also encompasses improving their team’s performance.
At the micro level, the golden thread works well on two levels.
First, it gives you directional focus to design what you need to do to support your organization’s strategy and achieve your strategic initiatives. From there, you can better plan how you want to work.
Second, the golden thread serves as a guiding force to keep focusing and fulfilling your plans without veering off into other areas. These things may be interesting but not as relevant to your goals and the organization’s strategy.
By having a golden thread you are better equipped to figure out:
- What you need to achieve.
- What your priorities should be.
- How you should spend your time and other resources to meet these priorities and your goals.
- What you either stop doing or cut back on ─ at least for the short term.
- Who and what you need to acknowledge yourself for and recognize in others to keep the momentum going.
When you have a strong golden thread, it also takes less effort to set and keep boundaries.
Meetings are also easier because you have a clearer idea of what needs to be on the agenda. This applies to meetings you conduct, as well as meetings you participate in. You may even decide to decline or skip meetings that lack ties to your golden thread.
This increased clarity also can help you lighten the cognitive load you carry overall, as you can stop worrying about issues outside of your line of sight and control. That gives you greater mental space to devote to everything that connects to your golden thread.
Are you ready to identify your golden thread and start weaving it in your work?