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Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One WOW! chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their customer experience. 

CrossFit ( has a global network of over 13,000 gyms known as affiliates. Their Facebook page has over 2.2 million followers. In addition to affiliates, there are CrossFit Games, CrossFit clothes, and a portfolio of accessories.

CrossFit unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with One Workout.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman. It is designed to optimize physical competence in ten fitness domains: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.

The Workout of the Day (WOD) is a key component of the CrossFit model. They describe their exercise philosophy this way:

CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more.

While CrossFit challenges the world's fittest, the program is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual, regardless of experience. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change the program. The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.

CrossFit gyms—affectionately known as “boxes” for their austere warehouse environment—are independent affiliates, not franchises. The affiliate licenses the CrossFit brand, but operates very independently.

Interestingly, while CrossFit “headquarters” publishes a new Workout of the Day every day, the affiliate gyms are free to use it or to develop their own.

In fact, a quick scan of the CrossFit affiliate gyms near my house revealed that none of them was using the WOD recommended by CrossFit headquarters for that day. Each affiliate had developed its own WOD.

While the specific exercises were different, the essence of the CrossFit WOD experience was maintained. Thus, CrossFit created an ecosystem of affiliates that are aligned in spirit.

This is an interesting approach to alignment. The corporate standard is really just a corporate suggestion, but it works for them. The CrossFit model of creating alignment in their ecosystem is aligned with their business strategy and corporate culture.

Alignment is always a balancing act between standardization and flexibility. CrossFit found the balance that works for them and their affiliates.

How does your company align your ecosystem to deliver your Wow!?