A few years ago, I took a trip to Napa Valley, California, and learned an important lesson about alignment.
The best wine comes from the vines that have been aggressively pruned.
In order to unleash the accelerating power of alignment, your company must also apply the discipline of pruning. For example, you must:
- Prune initiatives that are out of alignment with your mission.
- Prune executives who are out of alignment with your values.
- Prune products that are out of alignment with your strategy.
- Prune messages that are out of alignment with your campaign.
The discipline of pruning allows you to shed the things—and people—that hinder your progress.
Harvard Business School professor Michael Watkins has a great way of explaining this idea, “If ‘the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,’ as Michael Porter famously said in a seminal HBR article, then the essence of execution is truly not doing it. That sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly hard for organizations to kill existing initiatives, even when they don’t align with new strategies.”
Is your company struggling with the strategy of “more”? Do you suffer from “initiative creep”?
We once worked with a large nonprofit organization. They had just launched a major transformational initiative but were struggling to get everyone—and everything—aligned with it.
I asked the CEO, “Since launching the campaign, what have you stopped doing?”
His answer was, “Ummmm … nothing.”
One of the reasons we use the word “One” all the time is that it forces companies to ruthlessly prioritize.
Every goal is important … which is the most important One?
In addition, when you evaluate everything from the perspective of total alignment, you identify the cost of even small levels of misalignment.
When a division is 80 percent aligned with your strategy, it is still 20 percent misaligned. When a team is 90 percent bought-in to your vision, they are still 10 percent opted-out. If your delivery is just 5 percent misaligned with your brand promise, you will have a lot of unhappy customers.
My hunch is that you have people—and things—in your company that are far more misaligned than that.
You must have the courage—and the discipline—to confront and prune them if necessary.
Just like wine, the best results come from the companies that are aggressively pruned.
NOTE: This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction.