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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?


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?”



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.


In a guest article published on’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:



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.


One of the companies I admire most is

I especially appreciate Marc Benioff’s perspective on the importance of alignment.

“I've always thought that the biggest secret of is how we've achieved a high level of organizational alignment and communication while growing at breakneck speeds. While a company is growing fast, there is nothing more important than constant communication and complete alignment.”

We advise companies to develop a unique, one-of-a-kind way of creating alignment. Theirs is called “V2MOM,” an acronym that stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures.

Benioff infused this into their DNA from the beginning, and clearly it has worked. Salesforce has reached $5 billion in annual revenue faster than any other enterprise software company.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.

Quote is an excerpt from Marc Benioff's book "Behind the Cloud.”


Congratulations to American Pharoah, the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

Similarly, winning companies win because they create a “triple crown of differentiation.”

First, winners create differentiation at the corporate-level. This is the basic premise of Decide One Thing… winning companies have ONE overall, unifying Differentiating Competitive Advantage (DCA).

Second, winners create differentiation for every product or service they sell. The product/service differentiation is aligned with corporate DCA. (Every BMW is an Ultimate Driving Machine.) In addition, products and services have unique and differentiating features or capabilities that add value.

Finally, winners create differentiation for every proposal they submit. Every proposal clearly articulates the corporate DCA, the product/service DCA, and adds specific differentiation that is tailored for that customer.

Doing all three is the corporate equivalent of winning the Triple Crown.

And like American Pharoah, those who do are in rare company.

You’ll find them in the Winner’s Circle.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.


Bain and Company is a leader in strategy consulting.

The people who work there are, as they say in Boston, “wicked smaaart.”

So, when the leaders of Bain’s strategy practice validate the advice we’ve been giving, it feels especially good.

Here is an excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article written by Chris Zook and James Allen:

“Differentiation is the essence of strategy, the prime source of competitive advantage. You earn money not just by performing a valuable task, but by being different from your competitors in a manner that lets you serve your core customers better and more profitably.

The sharper your differentiation, the greater your advantage.”

Or, as we would say, Decide One Thing, Align Everything, and Win!®

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.

You can read the article, entitled The Great Repeatable Business Model here:


How does a brand survive 150 billion negative media impressions?

It helps if you stay “On Target.”

Target, the ubiquitous retailer, has a simple brand promise: Expect More. Pay Less.®

As a result of the recent data breaches, Target’s brand took a serious hit.

“We had two choices: surrender or fight,” say Jeff Jones, CMO of Target.

At the recent ANA conference, Jones acknowledged that the data breach was a wake-up call to get the company and the executive team aligned around an agenda of positive change.

“Never let your brand promise simply become a tag line.”

Great advice.

How about your organization? Is your tagline just a tagline? Or is it a brand promise?

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.