Alignment

Alignment is one of the most important conditions to establish in your organization. It is also one of the most talked about, yet most misunderstood and under-applied disciplines of effectiveness. There are two types of alignment. The first is the degree of ownership and commitment leaders have to a decision or direction and the second is the degree of “fit” between the various components of an organization.

Leadership Alignment

Building the essential levels of ownership and commitment required to fuel growth and change

Many leaders define alignment as moving in the same direction or being "on the same page". We have found that definition to be insufficient for sustaining energy and momentum in an organization. At Tandem Group, we define alignment as the relationship you have to a particular decision. It is distinct from the process used to make a decision, such as consensus, and it is distinct from the level of agreement with the decision. It is a choice each individual makes in how they relate to a decision. The extent of alignment with a decision can range from full and active ownership to sabotage. It is important to realize alignment is a choice. No one can "get" someone else aligned. That responsibility is personal for you and each of the people you are leading. As leaders, we have to create the opportunities for our teams and employees to do the work it takes for them to be aligned with where the company is headed and what it will take to get there. That often involves active discussion and interaction. Authentic alignment does not happen through memos proclaiming a new strategy or structure.
image description The chart above defines alignment necessary to fuel growth and change in an organization. Click to view larger image.

Organization Alignment

Aligning all aspects of the organization to execute the strategy while maintaining requisite levels of adaptability

Organization alignment is the degree of fit between the business strategy and core elements of the organization. An effective organization translates the strategy into business results—today and over and over again in the future. As experienced leaders know, it is a significant challenge to align the various aspects of an organization to deliver results. In fact, much of our work starts because clients are struggling to align the various parts of the organization system shown in the diagram below. Leaders have questions such as how the organization’s structure can best support the work that needs to be done or how they can make their existing large complex matrix structures work to their advantage. More recently, leaders are also finding the talent needed to make the strategy work is not in the right place at the right time with the right skills. So the alignment issues are abundant and ongoing in organizations. However, we have found an even bigger challenge is in creating the right level of alignment. When organizations take alignment to the extreme they can become stuck and rigid. In these organizations it becomes exceedingly difficult to change anything, much less adapt quickly to shifts in the market place. The most successful organizations are those that are able to design their organizations to be adaptive. These organizations think of alignment as more fluid and dynamic rather than fixed. There needs to be an appropriate level alignment for each organization, and even industry, that allows for the adaptability needed to compete successfully long-term.
image description The diagram above shows alignment between the core elements of an effective organization that is necessary to translate the strategy into business results. Click to view larger image.