Vertical or Horizontal Alignment?

Quick Insight

Most companies are vertically over-aligned. Look at any assembly line, customer journey, or sales cycle. They advance from one team to another. Achieving goals require strong coordination between teams.

Vertical alignment leads to tight alignment from company-level goals to team-level goals. Horizontal alignment focuses more on coordination between teams.

To be honest, most companies are vertically over-aligned because of reporting relationships, job promotion opportunities, and pay structures. Companies must also focus on the horizontal alignment of teams.

It’s not that companies don’t need vertical alignment; it’s that they have so much of it that vertical goal cascading exacerbates an over-concentration in a vertical orientation.

Look at any assembly line, customer journey, or sales cycle. The product, service, or customer doesn’t advance from the bottom of the company hierarchy to the top. They advance from one team to another. A customer sees a marketing ad, talks with a salesperson, orders a product that was made by a manufacturing team, is billed for it by an accounting team, and calls a customer service group with questions.

Goals are rarely accomplished completely vertically in a company. It requires coordination across teams. A successful product launch requires the coordination of production teams, marketing teams, sales teams, and service teams.

- Rob Stephens
Founder of CFO Perspective and the Finance and Strategy Toolkit (FAST)

Further Insight

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