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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.