3 Ways Business Partners Can Better Align On ‘Big-Picture’ Goals

Most businesspeople know how easy it is to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday operations. Misalignment is even easier when it comes to working with business partners, because business partners often fail to take a step back and align on big-picture goals.

Using proven collaboration techniques to align on big-picture goals can strengthen your partnerships and ultimately help deliver better results for you, your partner and your clients.

Much has been researched and written about the importance of creating a shared vision. Harvard University’s John Kotter is adamant about the importance of creating a in driving success. Organizations like PMI even teach how to create a shared vision.

But sadly, shared vision statements often are just empty words on a page and don’t get traction. One way to give your big-picture goals a boost is to leverage proven collaboration techniques …

The benefits of collaborative planning in a classroom environment have been . The National Education Association reports that such can boost creativity among teachers, while also helping students improve their higher-level thinking skills and confidence.

There’s no reason why an inclusive, collaborative approach to project-planning can’t work in the business world as well — especially when it comes to ensuring that all involved partners are truly aligned and focused on a big-picture goal.

Even when one partner already has a clear goal in mind that they want to accomplish, getting closer partner involvement during the planning stages can help refine the framing and mindset for how that goal will be accomplished.

Such planning initiatives can still be decided by formal procedural frameworks, and of course, you don’t have to give up decision-making power to your partners. But by getting partners more closely involved from the very beginning, you will be better able to cultivate a unified vision, build trust and foster buy-in from all stakeholders.

Communication is the foundation for any well-aligned business partnership. Without open communication, it is all too easy for priorities and objectives to shift and for the big-picture goal to get lost in the minutiae. This requires more than just active listening.

As Elayna Fernandez, international keynote speaker and two-time TEDx lecturer, explained in a recent email conversation, “Active listening is a good start. But effective communication will only happen when leaders, partners and colleagues validate each other. Validation is the prerequisite to creating an environment of authenticity, vulnerability and belonging. Validating your partners when they are sharing their experiences, thoughts or ideas is crucial in fostering a positive and inclusive environment. And just like in our personal lives, this creates deeper connections that allow for greater self-expression as everyone feels seen, safe and supported.”

Validating business partners’ ideas doesn’t mean you have to agree with or implement everything they suggest. Rather, it means that you actively recognize the value in their thoughts and opinions, even when you’ll ultimately be going in a different direction. This creates a positive atmosphere where everyone is more willing to share their contributions with the team. This also makes it easier to implement constructive feedback that will keep everyone aligned on your main goals.

With all this in mind, you should also establish consistency in how you communicate. Whether it’s achieved through weekly phone calls or bi-weekly emails, that simple act of communication will have a bigger impact than you might expect.

Big-picture goals should have measurable KPIs attached to them. For example, if the big-picture goal of the partnership is to increase customer satisfaction, there need to be measurable KPIs that indicate the success of these initiatives. This could include reducing the number of complaints, achieving a faster resolution time on customer service calls or improving review scores for one partner’s products or services.

All partners should commit to an ongoing flow of information that helps measure the success of their activities, as well as their contribution to the big-picture goal. Sharing data points that pertain to the big-picture goal allow for a more transparent analysis of which actions are (or aren’t) helping to make the big picture a reality.

This can subsequently lead to collaborative efforts between partners to identify new or improved actions or initiatives that will ensure the big-picture goal can still be achieved.

You should also employ partnership KPIs, which measure the effectiveness and alignment of the partnership itself. Key partnership KPIs may include a partner’s values and experience level, their engagement and and whether they adequately filled the scope of work assigned to them.

Surveys and other data-based assessments will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of these partnerships — including whether you need to find a new partner who will be better aligned to your big-picture goals.

Partnerships that are truly aligned on big-picture goals make this a point of emphasis well before a project officially gets underway. By ensuring buy-in and true collaboration from the initial planning phases, fostering quality communication throughout and sharing relevant data, it becomes much easier for organizations to remain aligned in their activities and goals.

When a more open, collaborative alignment occurs in a partnership, the involved parties will have greater trust in each other and be better equipped to ensure that those big-picture goals actually become a reality.