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Intelligence Report #8 – Aligning operational procedures with goal-directed behaviors.

INTELLIGENCE ISSN 2834-6238, Report #8 Published: Friday, February 9, 2024, 8:00 AM Eastern
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Small businesses face resource limitations and increased rivalry, therefore operational procedures and overarching objectives must be seamlessly integrated. Reaching this kind of alignment not only improves productivity but also fosters a unified culture within the company that drives all employees toward common goals.

Section I – Report Format

Getting to the CORE is about a digging process. Our goal is to uncover pertinent business problems investigated in academic, practitioner, and industry research that provide guidance, sources, and opportunities for small business leaders to employ in their strategic planning and execution.

Our objective is to address important questions through research and real-world applications. Our CORE investigation aims to deliver compelling insights on essential business questions related to operations, systems, strategy, and marketability.

To generate questions, you are our most valued contributor! We want our community to grow via open discussion and engagement.

Each issue will have a question, findings, and a list of sources. Each quarter, we hold a live discussion to analyze the findings and give ways to apply them to your business.

I hope you’re ready to push yourself, move yourself, and achieve great things. We’re ready to assist you in excavating your Red Diamond Business!

Section II – CORE Question

Small businesses have the ongoing issue of aligning their operational procedures with goal-oriented behaviors to promote growth and competitiveness in the dynamic business environment. This difficulty requires a detailed understanding of how operational efficiency can be aligned with organizational goals, at the crucial juncture where strategy and execution meet. Aligning operational processes with broad goals is crucial for long-term success. This synergy improves productivity and promotes a cohesive organizational culture. This month’s business question is: How can small enterprises begin aligning operational procedures with goal-directed behaviors?

Section III – CORE Findings

The critical intersection between strategy and execution demands a nuanced understanding of how operational efficiency can be harmonized with overarching organizational goals. This discussion aims to unravel practical insights and actionable strategies that small firms can employ to initiate the alignment of operational processes with goal-directed behaviors. Let’s examine our findings that clarify how owners can intentionally adopt strategies that convert their operations from routines to purposeful pathways for accomplishing strategic objectives.:

Academic Findings

[1] CEO Theory: A Comprehensive Approach to Understanding Hard to Maintain Behaviour Change.” This research seeks to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding behavior change, particularly focusing on hard-to-maintain behaviors.

When our research team began investigating this month’s question, we found the CEOs Theory. To our delight, it was one of the few articles that provided a good framework for aligning operational processes and company goals that could be operationalized. Overall, the research on the CEOS theory seeks to offer a comprehensive and integrated perspective on behavior change, emphasizing the need for aligning operational processes with goal-directed behaviors, leveraging emotional drivers, and fostering self-regulation to support long-term behavior change goals.

This is an excellent foundation for expanding or upgrading existing operations and it can be beneficial to new firms just beginning to define operational strategies.

To start, according to the article, small firms can leverage the insights from this research in several ways to enhance operations and drive behavior change:

  • Understanding Behavior Change: By grasping the principles of the CEOS theory, small B2B firms can better comprehend the factors influencing behavior change within their teams and among their clients. This understanding can aid in developing more effective strategies for promoting desired behaviors and overcoming resistance to change.
  • Facilitating Hard-to-Maintain Behavior Changes: The article focuses on hard-to-maintain behaviors, such as adopting new processes or technologies. Small B2B firms can apply the insights from the CEOS theory to support employees in making sustained changes, such as implementing new sales techniques or embracing innovative solutions.
  • Enhancing Self-Regulation: The CEOS framework emphasizes the importance of self-regulatory strategies in behavior change. Small B2B firms can encourage self-regulation among employees by providing tools, resources, and support to help them align their operational processes with executive goals.
  • Utilizing Stories and Scripts: The article highlights the role of stories and scripts in facilitating executive action. Small B2B firms can leverage storytelling techniques to communicate goals, values, and desired behaviors effectively within the organization. Crafting compelling narratives can inspire employees and clients to align their actions with the firm’s objectives.
  • Maximizing Affective Force: Understanding how affective force influences behavior can help small B2B firms create environments that foster motivation and engagement. By tapping into emotional drivers and creating a positive emotional climate, firms can encourage desired behaviors and enhance performance.

The framework presented in the study is the CEOS Theory, which stands for Context, Executive, and Operational Systems theory. This framework conceptualizes behavior as a dynamic interaction between internal needs (Operational System) and goal-directed executive action (Executive System) in response to environmental conditions (Context). The Operational System continuously seeks a balance between internal needs and external context, while the Executive System provides the capacity to set and pursue goals beyond immediate contingencies. The theory emphasizes the role of affective force in driving behavior and the need for strategies to align operational processes with goal-directed behaviors. Overall, the CEOS framework offers a comprehensive model to foster a culture of continuous growth and adaptation.

Affective Force

The research mentions affective force, which piqued even more interest. Affective force, as described in the CEOS theory, refers to the emotional and motivational energy that drives behavior. It is generated around executive system (ES) goals through various means such as memories of direct experiences, vicarious experiences, and emotionally charged communications. Affective force plays a crucial role in influencing behavior by stimulating action tendencies and supporting the pursuit of goals set by the Executive System. In essence, affective force provides the emotional impetus needed to override competing behaviors generated by the Operational System and helps individuals maintain focus on their goal-directed behaviors.

Drawbacks

However, like any theoretical framework, it also has some potential drawbacks:

  • Complexity: The CEOS theory involves intricate interactions between internal needs, executive actions, and environmental factors. This complexity may make it challenging for some individuals or organizations to fully grasp and implement the theory effectively.
  • Application Challenges: Translating the theoretical concepts of the CEOS framework into practical strategies for behavior change in real-world settings can be complex. Small businesses or individuals may struggle to apply the theory in a way that yields tangible results.
  • Limited Empirical Evidence: While the CEOS theory is theoretically sound, there may be a lack of extensive empirical evidence to support all aspects of the framework. This could raise questions about the generalizability and effectiveness of the theory in diverse contexts.
  • Resource Intensive: Implementing the CEOS theory may require significant resources, including time, expertise, and organizational support. Small businesses with limited resources may find it challenging to fully leverage the theory to drive behavior change effectively.
  • Overemphasis on Executive System: The CEOS theory places a strong emphasis on the Executive System and goal-directed behaviors. This focus may overlook the importance of other factors influencing behavior change, such as social influences, environmental cues, and individual differences.
  • Limited Focus on Cultural Factors: The CEOS theory may not adequately address the role of cultural factors in shaping behavior and behavior change processes. Cultural differences and norms could impact the applicability and effectiveness of the theory in diverse cultural contexts.

While the CEOS theory offers valuable insights into behavior change and self-regulation, acknowledging these potential drawbacks can help you critically evaluate its applicability and tailor its implementation to suit specific needs and circumstances.

We like this research because, overall, it gives small firms a novel framework for understanding human behavior and behavior change processes. The study explores the interplay between internal needs, executive actions, and environmental influences in driving behavior change. This will enhance their organizational effectiveness, achieving their strategic objectives.

Practitioner/Industry Findings

In our search for insights for aligning operational processes with goal-directed behaviors, we came across only a few generalized pieces that provided broad viewpoints. This lack of information underscores the importance of extracting useful lessons from academic discourse. In the absence of industry-specific guidelines, small businesses are encouraged to examine larger insights and develop practical solutions for aligning their operational procedures with overall aims.

Here are two articles we did find that were helpful:

[2] The article “9 Steps to Successful Functional Strategic Planning” from Gartner addresses key principles for strategic planning processes, emphasizing the importance of clarity and efficiency in communication. It also guides how functional leaders can ensure their strategic plans remain flexible and account for various scenarios. By committing to a strategic mindset, taking a methodical step-by-step approach, and clearly outlining the strategic plan on one page, functional leaders can drive behavior change within their organizations. These steps help in communicating the plan effectively, fostering buy-in, and preparing the organization to respond to change, ultimately leading to a culture of agility and responsiveness.

[3] The article “How to Align Individual, Team, and Organizational Goals for Success” by Kristin Ryba emphasizes the importance of aligning individual, team, and organizational goals to drive organizational success. By aligning goals, employees gain a clear sense of purpose, engagement, and accountability, leading to improved performance and collaboration within the organization. This alignment not only benefits employees by fostering professional development and recognition but also enhances organizational performance by providing clarity, focus, and a shared sense of direction. While the article does not explicitly address behavior change, the principles of goal alignment discussed can indirectly influence behavior change by shaping employee attitudes and actions toward achieving common objectives.

We will cover a few others in the next webcast.

Section IV – CORE Discussion

For long-term success in the sphere of small business, operational processes must be in harmony with overarching objectives. In addition to increasing productivity, this synergy fosters a unified organizational culture. Subsequently, how will you commence the process of harmonizing operational procedures with goal-oriented conduct?

Let’s converse!

We have many more sources and insights on this month’s question. Additional findings will be shared during our LIVE dialogue and conversation about “the CORE findings” webcast for subscribers. Webcasts are held on the third Thursday of each quarter in January, April, July, and October. If you’re a subscriber, no need to register, set the reminder on your calendar. We’ll send the link to join one week before the event.

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Section V – CORE Sources

Remember: We investigate research from all sources. Your goal is to dig into the findings so that you can create solutions.

Academic Articles

[1] Borland, R. (2017). CEO Theory. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 9(1), 3–35. doi:10.1111/aphw.12083 https://doi.org/10.1111/aphw.12083

Practitioner/Industry Articles

[2] Gartner. (2023, May 29). 9 Steps to Successful Functional Strategic Planning. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/9-steps-successful-functional-strategic-planning

[3] Ryba, K. (2021, February 23). How to Align Individual, Team, and Organizational Goals for Success. Quantum Workplace. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/how-to-align-organizational-goals

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