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LinkedIn-Post_onesystemEvery company has a system for managing the business.

But most are not particularly systematized.

When your company is small, managing it is relatively easy.

As you grow, complexity increases exponentially. To effectively manage the business, companies must create a management system.

In the classic Harvard Business Review article, “Mastering the Management System,” professors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton describe the need for a management system:

“In our experience, however, breakdowns in a company’s management system, not managers’ lack of ability or effort, are what cause a company’s underperformance. By management system, we’re referring to the integrated set of processes and tools that a company uses to develop its strategy, translate it into operational actions, and monitor and improve the effectiveness of both.”

There are dozens of different management systems. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • The balanced scorecard, developed by Harvard Business School professors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton
  • Objectives and key results (OKRs), developed by Andy Grove at Intel
  • “The Rockefeller Habits,” developed by Verne Harnish
  • “The Entrepreneurial Operating System,” developed by Geno Wickman and Don Tinney
  • “Holocracy,” developed by Holocracy One
  • “The Top Gear System,” developed by SHIFTPOINTS
  • And many others

Each of these systems can be effective, but we advise clients to pick One of them. When a company adopts One System as your Alignment Management System, it provides a common language, which speeds communication and reduces friction.

Does your company have One Alignment Management System?

NOTE: This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction.




Every company has a culture.

But most have a dysfunctional one.

The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas set in seventeenth-century Paris. It tells the story of a young man named d'Artagnan who wants to join the Musketeers of the Guard.

The Three Musketeers made the phrase “all for one and one for all” famous (“tous pour un, et un pour tous”).

All for One and One for All.

This sounds a lot easier than it is. Unfortunately, the cultural dynamic we often see is “All for me and none for you!”

Companies actually have dozens of cultures.

The accounting team has a culture. The European sales team has one. The manufacturing plant has a different one.

The key is to build a One-Company culture that unifies and aligns everyone.

Unfortunately, Bain & Company research found that only 10 percent of companies have a high-performance culture.

While there are many reasons for this, one of the most dysfunctional is infighting.

Sometimes, this behavior is demonstrated in the budgeting process, which is often managed as a zero-sum game. Sometimes, it manifests itself in unhealthy internal competition and power struggles.

Peter Drucker famously said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” That sounds good, but I am not sure it is true.

What is true is that companies with One-Company cultures can leverage the full breadth and depth of the firm to win and serve customers. These highly aligned companies eat their fragmented and dysfunctional competitors for breakfast … lunch … and dinner!

Ideally, your company has built the One-Company mindset into your culture from Day One.

If, however, you have allowed your culture to disintegrate into warring tribes and dysfunctional fiefdoms, you have a lot of work to do.

Does your company have a One-Company culture?

NOTE: This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction.



LinkedIn-Post_OneCompanyCampaignIf your company is massively misaligned, you may need a One-Company Campaign.

Before you decide, remember that many people are jaded, cynical, skeptical, and distrustful of these kinds of initiatives.

And that is on a good day.

Nonetheless, should you decide to implement a One-Company campaign, your company should employ several best practices, including:

  • Inspire results with relentless, unwavering leadership. Alignment does not just happen. It takes lots of hard work and an intentional focus on the issue.
  • Manage alignment with a high-powered A-Team. The Alignment Team will manage the alignment process. (Some companies call this a program management office, or PMO.) They must have the organizational credibility and political capital to build coalitions and break down barriers.
  • Create excitement with a high-energy launch. One way to accelerate results is to launch the change with town hall meetings, e-mail blasts, videos, web content, posters, banners, and the obligatory T-shirts. While these elements can be fun, their impact is short-term. So, launch with fanfare, but sustain the effort. And remember, many people are cynical about these kinds of things. Don’t be lame.
  • Accelerate alignment by leveraging key influencers. It is essential to have key influencers, both internal and external, on board with the program. Find and empower your early adopters. These people “get it” right away, and incorporating their suggestions is critical to accelerating success.
  • Visualize progress with a war room that dramatizes the change. This is a fantastic tool for highlighting misalignment. This can be especially helpful when your company has lots of “old versions” of things. Use a progress wall so everyone can see the before and after.
  • Build endurance with a steady stream of wins and validations. Delivering early wins is a must. Celebrating them publicly will generate momentum, but avoid declaring victory too early. Many programs start out well but hit the wall. Easy issues are resolved first; difficult ones are procrastinated. Success requires endurance.
  • Drive progress with a clear project timeline, roadmap, and deadlines. Often, this means going faster than most think is possible or prudent. Some may worry about the timeline being too aggressive, but our experience is that organizations can change a lot faster than they think they can.
  • Run the transformation in 90-Day SPRINTS. SHIFTPOINTS has had tremendous success with the 90-day SPRINT model. Start by breaking the transformation into specific initiatives that can be accomplished within 90 days. Meet at the start of every quarter to review progress. Color-code each initiative with red, yellow, or green to indicate whether it has been accomplished.

These best practices will improve the probability of success. 

NOTE: This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction.



shutterstock_145471609 (1)As you surely know by now, we believe that alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage. If you share that conviction, then creating alignment is not a tangential, tertiary, nice-to-have issue for your company. It is mission-critical.

Otherwise known as Job One.

The exemplar companies featured in my book, Drive One Direction, completely embraced this idea.

Of course, this starts with the CEO.

During my interview with Alan Mulally, he actually used our tagline, “Alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Randy Papadellis, operated as Ocean Spray’s “Chief Alignment Officer.”

The founders of The Carlyle Group were so convinced of the importance of alignment that they codified the “One Carlyle” message from Day One.

Gail McGovern’s unwavering commitment to being “One Red Cross” was the key to their amazing turnaround.

Linda Chadwick, the Chief Executive Officer of Rita’s Water Ice, explained this emphatically, “Getting everyone going in the same direction is my Number One Priority.”

The executive team must embrace this idea as well. They must truly believe that alignment is mission critical.

Too often, we see passive “lip service” commitments to alignment initiatives. People say that alignment is Job One, but their actions deliver a different message.

We recommend that companies use assessment tools like the SHIFTPOINTS Corporate Alignment Percentage or the Acceleration Index to quantify the their current level of alignment.

We also suggest that companies use those metrics to calculate the true cost of misalignment. For most, this will be a startlingly high number. 

Once you have quantified the cost of misalignment, improving it will surely be One of your priorities … but will it be Number One?

It seems redundant to say, “One Number One Priority,” but some companies have so many priorities that everything is a priority. Too often, companies even have competing, contradictory priorities.

Bill Pollard, the retired chairman of ServiceMaster, was talking with Peter Drucker about priorities. Peter said, "Bill, it wasn't until the 20th century that we pluralized the word priority. For most of its history, the word has been singular."

So, if you can only have One Number One Priority, what should it be? We obviously think that alignment must be Job One.

To turn alignment into a competitive advantage, it must be Job One.