An example of alignment

One of the concepts that’s resonated the most with me here at business school is the concept of alignment. We allude to it in almost all of our classes, from accounting to strategy. Alignment basically means that your business processes and performance metrics are in line with your company goals.

I thought this article, at BusinessWeek, really highlighted it well. The gist of it is this: Sprint/Nextel was losing a lot of money and customers. After the merger, they had a metric for measuring call center performance; shorter times spent with the customer were better. This led to customers being rushed off the phone and being left unsatisfied. After changing CEOs, the metric is now tracking the number of customer issues that are being resolved on the first call. Does anybody else see the difference?

Anyway, it’s an interesting article and apparently people still have to learn the lesson the hard way.

(Interesting side note: I have seen people in situations like this get promoted not on the basis of skill, but on the basis of “how many calls they can handle”. Organizations that work like that are truly broken. However, I had a great experience once calling HP’s Procurve support and being told by the engineer that answered the phone to take as much time as I needed.)

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