The importance of aligning digital objectives with organisational objectives

This morning a re-read of Tim Lloyd’s ten mantras for a digital communications team and a subsequent tweet got me thinking about the importance of setting objectives when working in digital communications.

Objectives are imperative to any organisation. Working without a clear objective not only means measuring your success is at best subjective it can badly hit morale and drive. Imagine going into work and not knowing what you’re working towards.

Ohh, shiny!

Digital can be particularly prone to working without objectives as new and shiny tools excite and enthuse people to work towards a self-determined goal, e.g. ‘I want a website with integrated Twitter and YouTube content’. Lack of understanding of what digital can do can hamper senior decision makers ability to see whether one digital activity/project compared to the next is adding any value. Both things add to the opportunity for digital projects to slip pass the usual tests of:

  1. Is this adding value to the organisation?
  2. Is this an efficient use of our finite time?

Aligning digital to organisation objectives

If digital teams are to show their organisations they are worth the salary, digital teams have to be working towards the same goals as the organisation.

It bears repeating…

If digital teams are to show their organisations they are worth the salary, digital teams have to be working towards the same goals as the organisation.

It’s a question of getting the right individuals together who understand the limits that statement puts on them collectively. There may be a guy or girl who loves making videos, but if videos aren’t passing the above two tests then they shouldn’t be making videos. The approach brings with it good conflict – valuable conversations about personal goals, learning discipline and efficient use of capacity across the team.

An NHS example

A colleague in a Foundation Trust who enjoys working with Twitter wants to create some additional tweets to the numerous ones sent through by the national campaigns team. It will take them an hour of their 37.5 hours a week.

Will the tweets add value to the organisations? Is producing them an efficient use of the individuals time?

If the tweets are going to direct people to local services and/or start up a local conversation I’d say it does. If not that hour could be used to create other tweets which supported an organisational objective. For example:

Organisational objective = increase awareness of our safety record with the local population (as measured against the yearly ‘Do you think hospital X is as safe, safer or less safe than other NHS hospitals?’ question).

Alignment with organisational objective = a series of tweets to be used across the year that highlight the best safety aspects of hospital x and how the hospital is improving its safety record.

Management’s job

This simple writing tweets in one hour example shows how a good manager can turn a person’s motivation towards the common good of the organisation. It’s a tough job.

A good digital manager will be able to turn around to their boss and show how the team’s work has supported the achievement of organisational objectives; not just reel off a bunch of outputs. This is where the value of digital really starts to show itself. This is how digital teams can get investment and influence. This is along with Tim’s 10 mantras is a map to the future of digital.