The Importance of Alignment feat. George Labovitz
Doug Swanson, January 22, 2018
Have you ever had the feeling that you were living in a different world than the rest of your company or organization? Perhaps it felt like the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing? Or, maybe you are an executive and are wondering why your folks just don’t seem to “get it”. Most of us have been there, and these are strong indicators your organization may not be aligned.
In our latest episode of Leadership Conversations, I talked to Dr. George Labovitz, author of The Power of Alignment and Rapid Re-Alignment, about the importance of alignment, and how aligned organizations outperform their peers and competitors. He has years of experience in helping organizations align and realize their purpose.
To better understand what alignment is, imagine you are outside with your friends, knee deep in snow (not hard for many this winter!). Seemingly out of nowhere, a snowball hits the back of your head, and cold snow falls down your back. It’s on! You pick up a handful of snow and fling it at your ‘frenemy’. It disintegrates into a cloud in front of you, falling well short of the intended target. What happened? Quite simply the snow wasn’t aligned for it’s intended purpose. It wasn’t aligned into a snowball. Alignment integrates parts and focuses resources to achieve a purpose.
An organization is like that snowball. If the different parts are not brought together, integrated, and focused for their intended purpose, the organization will fall well short of it’s target. It will fail to realize it’s purpose.
Dr. Labovitz describes four competencies that allow for alignment within an organization:
- Strategy – Do you have one, and can you rapidly deploy it?
- People – Do they understand the strategy, and do they have the skills to execute it?
- Customer – Are you focused on your customer? Do you know what they want?
- Processes – Are they agile enough to respond to changing customer needs?
When those competencies are working together, an organization will achieve vertical and horizontal alignment. Getting there requires measurement, which drives behavior, which in turn drives culture.
Central to making all this happen is leadership. Like a pilot constantly trims an aircraft to keep it flying straight and level, leaders constantly fine tune strategies, communicate mission and goals, influence culture. Leaders create and sustain alignment.
To hear more on alignment, tune into our latest episode of Leadership Conversationsand order your copy of The Power of Alignment.