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POSTS FILED UNDER "drive-one-direction"

04-17-19

THE COST OF MISALIGNMENT

rowing rew red circleThe classic illustration of alignment is the rowing crew.

But imagine an eight-person boat with only seven rowers.

Or worse yet, imagine that one of the rowers is rowing in the opposite direction.

Misaligned crews lose the race. Misaligned companies lose millions.

In the last article, we explored the many aspects of misalignment, but how much does that misalignment cost your company?

Fortunately, you can calculate the cost of misalignment.

Let’s say your company has 1,000 employees, and your Corporate Alignment Percentage is 80 percent.

That means that 20 percent of your employees’ time and energy is wasted … which is the equivalent of 200 people lost.

You are paying for 1,000 people, but only getting the energy of 800. If your average loaded cost per person is $100,000 per year, that is the equivalent of $20 million dollars!

Now, you should do your own math.

What is your total payroll? What is your Corporate Alignment Percentage (CAP)?

How much is misalignment costing your company? Conversely, how much value can your company recapture by improving alignment?

Perhaps an illustration will help you understand the benefits of improving alignment.

A few years ago, I owned a twin turbocharged BMW.

In case you don’t have a degree in automotive engineering, let me explain how a turbocharger works.

In a normal engine, gasoline is mixed with air and is then ignited by the spark plug to produce power. This process is not 100 percent efficient, so hot gases flow out the exhaust pipes into the environment.

A turbocharger is a small device that looks like a fan. It “recycles” the hot exhaust gases and forces them back into the engine. It converts the energy that would otherwise have been wasted into additional horsepower.

Alignment is the turbocharger of organizational performance.

The Drive One Direction process “recycles” the energy that is wasted by misalignment and turns it into additional people power.

This enables you to zoom past your competition!

My assertion is that improving alignment is likely the highest ROI activity you have.

04-10-19

HOW DO YOU MEASURE ALIGNMENT?

How Do You Measure Alignment?A few months ago, I went to the car dealer for maintenance. As I entered the service bay, I drove over a special sensor on the ground that measured my alignment in real-time.

I was dismayed to learn that my car was out of alignment.

That’s right, the guy who was writing a book about alignment called Drive One Direction was driving a car that was out of alignment.

Imagine my shame!

I did some research and discovered that the system was made by Hunter Engineering Company in Bridgeton, Missouri (www.hunter.com). Here is what I learned:

“Hunter’s patented alignment check system is the quickest way to measure alignment angles that affect tire life. The test takes less than a minute to produce total toe and camber measurements for both axles. Results are displayed in easy-to-understand, color-coded graphics.”

Ever since that experience, I wanted to create a radically simple way for companies to measure their alignment.

During my CEO interviews, I always asked them about the importance of alignment.

“Alignment is mission-critical,” was the Number One answer.

Then, I would ask them about the old adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Every CEO gave me the same answer, “I totally agree with that!”

Then, I would go on to say, “So, you told me that alignment was mission critical … and if you can’t measure something you can’t manage it.”

“That’s right!”

“So, how do you measure alignment?” 

At this point, there would be a long and awkward pause …

Measuring alignment is a complicated problem. We are still working on solving it. However, to get things started, we developed a simple One Question survey:

On a scale of one to ten, rate your company’s current level of strategic alignment.

  • 10 = We are like a perfectly synchronized rowing crew.
  • 1 = We are like a group of warring tribes. Civil war about to break out.

Go ahead … answer the question for your company … what’s your number? That is your Corporate Alignment Percentage™ (CAP). The survey is still under development. Who knows, perhaps it will become the Net Promoter® of alignment.

Regardless, we believe it is essential for your company to develop a way to measure alignment. There are three primary reasons.

First, strategic alignment is mission-critical. You simply cannot succeed without it. Second, strategic alignment is a leading indicator. Third, strategic alignment is EveryOne’s business. Thus, EveryOne can improve the metric.

So, how does your company measure alignment?

At SHIFTPOINTS, our mission is to help companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment. Our Acceleration IndexTM is a proprietary survey designed to assess strategic alignment. Visit https://www.shiftpoints.com/acceleration-index to learn more! 

04-03-19

Misalignment: The Root Cause of Organizational Dysfunction

PotholesI believe that the root cause of virtually every organizational problem is misalignment.

Why do I believe that? Let me count the ways!

When your market vision is misaligned, you miss growth opportunities.

When your business model is misaligned, you lose money. 

When your human resources strategy is misaligned, you hire the wrong people.

When your product development team is misaligned, you build the wrong product.

When your operating model is misaligned, people spend endless hours in internal coordination meetings.

When your mission-critical processes are misaligned, you miss your deadlines and irritate your customers.

When your management system is misaligned, decisions are frequently overturned.

When marketing and sales are misaligned, you miss your revenue targets.

When management and labor are misaligned, workers go on strike.

When the board and the CEO are misaligned, the CEO gets fired.

I could go on, but you get the point: misalignment is the root of virtually every organizational dysfunction.

We also see misalignment as the root cause of most interpersonal conflicts.

For example, recently I was coaching an executive who was struggling to meet his numbers. I asked him, “Why are you missing your numbers?”

He gave me an explanation that seemed plausible, but then I asked, “Would your boss agree with that explanation?”

“Probably not.”

Given that the executive and his boss were not aligned on the root cause of the problem, there was little chance that they would agree on the executive’s proposed solution.

In another session, a different executive was recounting her accomplishments. Again, I asked the question, “Would your boss agree with that list?”

“Probably not.”

In both cases, the executives and their bosses were misaligned.

Alignment is both a strategic corporate issue and a tactical interpersonal one.

That is why improving alignment is Job One!

03-27-19

Divisions—by Definition—Divide

shutterstock_62272-OneProblemWhen companies are small, they are in One Business. They target One Market. They sell One Product. There is One P&L. Everyone probably sits in One Office. But, as companies grow, they create divisions. 

There is only One Problem: divisions—by definition—divide.

Just to be clear, even small, One Business businesses can have alignment problems. (We’ve even worked with solopreneurs, otherwise known as One Person Companies, who had alignment problems.)

But the larger you are, the more likely you will struggle with strategic alignment. The big turning point is when your company creates divisions.

Some companies divide by product line. Some divide by geography. Some create business units. Some organize by function.

How is your company divided?

By product? By market? By function? By geography? Some other way?

Once your company has divisions, you must decide if it is important to align them.

Yes, I said “if.”

Theoretically, your company could allow the divisions to operate totally autonomously, with virtually no alignment. Some companies, such as Berkshire Hathaway and Virgin, operate as a “company of companies.” There is just a very thin, lightweight corporate alignment process to hold the operating companies together.

However, most companies decide that it is indeed important to create a high level of alignment.

“We must unite the divisions!”

As we explained, companies must align the divisions with corporate and they must align the divisions with each other.

In addition, each division adds its own strategies, goals, standards, priorities, policies, etc. to the things that cascaded down from corporate. Then, departments are expected to align with both the things that cascaded down from corporate and the things that cascaded down from the divisions.

And on and on it goes.

The alignment challenge grows exponentially once a company has multiple divisions. Aligning a company with two divisions is four times harder. Aligning a company with four divisions is sixteen times harder.

Many companies exacerbate the alignment problem by constantly reorganizing. Every time your company reorganizes, the alignment operating system must be rebuilt.

03-20-19

Workforce Changes Radically Affect Alignment

Runners uphillMy dad went to work at General Electric in January 1962.

In just One Generation, the workforce has radically changed, and creating alignment is now radically more difficult.

In my dad's generation, the workforce was very homogeneous. Most of the “white collar” workers were white males. Most of the women in the workforce were in secretarial roles.

Now, the workforce is tremendously and beautifully diverse. The increase in diversity is a great thing. Let me say that again, the increase in diversity is a great thing, but it does make alignment much more difficult.

In my dad’s generation, a large percentage of the workforce had military experience. They were comfortable in top-down, command-and-control organizations. They were trained to obey orders.

Now, the workforce is radically different. Many were raised in the “me” generation. Millennials have a very different worldview. As a result, the old command-and-control way of creating alignment is no longer effective.

In my dad’s generation, there was a basic civility and decency in society. Children were trained to say, “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes, Sir.” Politicians referred to each other as “distinguished colleagues.” There was a respect for authority.

Now, people denigrate each other every night on TV. They attack each other in social media. They shoot the police. This makes alignment much more difficult.

In my dad’s generation, many companies had either explicit or implicit guarantees of lifetime employment. My dad spent thirty-one years with GE. In fact, when I started at IBM in 1979, the company still had a culture of lifetime employment.

Now, the workforce is extremely unsettled, and most people will work for multiple companies in their careers. Companies expect loyalty, but they don’t give it in return. This makes alignment much more difficult.

In my dad’s generation, the majority of people working at a company were officially classified as employees.

Now, the workforce is an ever-changing mix of employees, long-term contractors, temporaries, and gig workers. This creates multiple classes of workers with different benefits, different rules, different loyalties, and different goals. This makes alignment much more difficult.

In my dad’s generation, when you wanted to communicate with someone who worked in your building, you walked down the hall.

Now, people send an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. This makes alignment much more difficult.

In my dad’s generation, companies had physical offices.

Now, many companies have large numbers of full- and part-time telecommuters. Some companies, such as Zapier, are 100 percent virtual.

In my dad’s generation, the Fortune 500 was extremely stable: companies remained on the list for an average of sixty-one years.

Now, the average tenure of a Fortune 500 company is fifteen years. Companies are constantly merging, reorganizing, divesting, etc. Companies that were models of stability—like Arthur Andersen, Nortel Networks, and Lehman Brothers—are completely gone.

The combination of these organizational and societal forces has made alignment radically more difficult.

 

03-13-19

Is Alignment Really Necessary for Every Organization?

BigBoatManyRowersWe believe that every organization, regardless of size or industry or operating model, must create strategic alignment.

That is why we say, “Alignment is Job One.”

For every idea, there are contrarians. Alignment is no exception.

So, let’s consider the question: is alignment really necessary for every organization?

Consider some of the common objections to alignment raised by my contrarian friends:

  • Can’t you just let everyone do whatever they feel is right?
  • Won’t top-down controls stifle innovation and creativity?
  • Do you really need rules?
  • Won’t people just naturally self-align to do what is in the corporation’s best interest?
  • What, are we going to all join hands and sing "Kumbaya"?

After all, you can’t legislate morality.

Perhaps you are an alignment contrarian. Perhaps you have these questions and more. If so, consider these examples:

In 2014, the online retailer Zappos adopted a utopian “self-management” model called Holacracy. When Zappos adopted it, hundreds of managerial positions were eliminated. It was hailed as the future of work. Fully empowered employees. Free to contribute. Free to innovate. Free from creativity-stifling management.

Not so much. The Holacracy model has a formal constitution that is 42 pages long.

Consider Burning Man, the annual festival in the Nevada desert. It is designed to be the ultimate, utopian experience of individual freedom and “radical self-expression.” It attracts over 70,000 people from all walks of life (including, ironically, billionaires who fly in on private jets).

But even Burning Man has rules to keep everyone aligned.

Yes, but how about the anarchists?

The International Anarchist Federation is fighting for “the abolition of all forms of authority whether economical, political, social, religious, cultural or sexual.” Interestingly, even the IAF has rules. To become a member, you must agree to align with their statement of principles.

Amazing. Even anarchists need alignment.

I hope these examples help convince you that alignment is mission-critical for every organization.

If your company needs alignment, SHIFTPOINTS offers The Pit Stop Program -- a 30-day engagement that culminates in a One Day workshop. It is intensely focused on One Issue: unleashing the accelerating power of alignment. To schedule your Pit Stop Program, contact us at start@shiftpoints.com.

04-19-18

ONE WORD - ALIGNMENT

a·lign·ment

One word.  Three syllables.  Thousands of applications.

But, what does alignment actually mean? 

The etymology origin of “align” is French.  Webster’s says the first known use of the word was in 1693.  Some of the common uses include: 

  • to arrange things or people in a straight line.
  • to bring things or people into alignment.
  • to bring people into agreement with a particular group, party, cause, etc.
  • to bring things into a proper coordination (such as the wheels of a car).

Align is a verb.  Aligned is a past participle.  Aligning is a gerund.  Alignment is a noun.

Okay, enough of that. 

What does it mean for your company?

If your company is a global conglomerate, alignment means one thing. If your company is a dance company, alignment means a totally different thing.

In addition, our review of the research articles about alignment confirmed that even the scholars don’t have a common definition of alignment.

There are multiple reasons for this.

First, every company is radically different.  Synagogues are radically different from symphonies.  The United Auto Workers is radically different from the United Nations.  3M and IBM have one letter in common … and that’s about it.

Second, companies are in different life stages.  (See the chapter entitled One Life Stage.)  Startups are worried about survival, and spinouts are worried about cutting the corporate umbilical cord.

Third, companies have different operating models and management philosophies. (See the chapter entitled One Model.) Some companies run like denominations, and some churches run like corporations. 

Thus, every company is different, and you must define alignment in your unique One-of-a-Kind Way. 

After all, how can everyone Drive in One Direction if you don’t show them the way?

ACTION POINT:

One Way to get started is to take the One Definition challenge.

Ask a group of people to write a basic definition of the word “alignment.” Share the results around the table. Then, ask them to modify that definition as follows, “What does alignment mean for our company?”

01-09-17

#4: THE DISCIPLINE OF DESIGN

Every team has people. 
 
But most executive teams struggle to get the right people in the right roles.

As we discussed last week in The Discipline of Purpose, clarity of purpose is a prerequisite to building a high-performance executive team. 
 
Once the purpose is clear, you must apply The Discipline of Design.  Answering a few questions can accelerate the process:

  • What are the skills, strengths, and experiences required to accomplish your executive team’s unique purpose?
  • What are the skills, strengths, and experiences of the existing executive team?  What are your gaps? How can you close them?
  • What roles are required?  Which executives are best positioned to fill those roles? (Note: these roles do not have to be linked to the executive’s title.  For example, if the CFO is the person with the most experience with employee engagement, perhaps they should lead that initiative, not the VP of HR.)

Of course, there are many other questions that impact the design of the executive team.  The key point is that great executive teams don’t just happen.  They are designed.

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SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.
11-21-16

WISDOM FROM SPENCER RASCOFF, CEO OF ZILLOW GROUP

In a guest article published on Fortune.com’s Leadership Insider, Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group validated what we have been advocating for 8 years. 

“It all starts with aligning employees behind your mission as a company.”

Of course, this presumes that your mission is clear enough to align everyone with.  Most companies – especially small entrepreneurial ones – struggle with the “all things to all people problem.”  Some call this “mission creep.”

Spencer goes on explain his approach this way, “There’s a lot of academic research about why it’s advantageous to have a mission-driven culture, particularly with millennials who are trying to connect with something beyond a job; they want a purpose, not just a paycheck.  A mission-driven culture will allow you to attract better, more engaged employees.  This is a big part of our company’s DNA. Everyone at Zillow Group is aligned behind one mission: Power to the People: Build the world’s largest, most trusted and vibrant home-related marketplace.”

Is your mission crystal-clear?  Is it inspiring?  Is everyone aligned with it?

If not, our Drive One Direction® process can help.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.

You can read the entire article here:  http://fortune.com/2015/12/02/biggest-challenge-ceos-face/

11-14-16

WISDOM FROM LUKE SCHNEIDER, CEO OF SILVERCAR

Last week, I had the amazing privilege of leading a Pit Stop Program for Silvercar in Austin, TX.

Their vision is to change the way the world hits the road.

The first market they are revolutionizing is airport rental car. Their model is incredible, and they are the first company outside the “Big 3” of Hertz, Avis and Enterprise to be named North America’s “Leading Car Rental Company.”

Silvercar’s Net Promoter score is three times the industry average!

I strongly urge you to download the Silvercar app and use them at your earliest convenience. You will never want to use the “Big 3” ever again.

I also think everyone would do well to copy Silvercar’s spirit of innovation, starting with the customer experience.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.