DRIVE ONE DIRECTION
Imagine a fleet of vehicles.
All of them driving in One Direction, dynamically aligned with a navigation system that can reroute the fleet on a dime.
That was the vision that inspired this book and led us to trademark the term Drive One Direction®.
But, how do you create that level of alignment?
Ten years ago, I started a consulting company to help companies do just that. In fact, my original code name for the business was “aligned.org.” While I did not use that as the company name, alignment has been our focus since the beginning.
Over the past decade, we have worked with dozens of companies, helping them improve strategic alignment. In addition, we studied over One Hundred organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries. In particular, we focused on companies that were on lists such as FORTUNE Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies or the various Best Places to Work lists.
Based on this work, we came to some important conclusions:
First, misalignment is alarmingly common. Virtually every company—even solopreneurs—suffers from it.
Second, organizational and societal factors have made alignment more difficult than it has ever been.
Third, strategic alignment is mission-critical. In fact, we believe that every organization, regardless of size or industry or operating model needs strategic alignment.
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.
So, if misalignment is alarmingly common, and creating alignment is more difficult than it has ever been, and every organization needs it, how do companies create strategic alignment?
In Dave Ramos' new book, he answers that question.
The book features case studies of forty exemplar companies. For each company, we identify how they unleashed the accelerating power of alignment.
Some are household names like Ford, Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft.
Some are disrupters and pioneers, like Amazon, Netflix, Tesla, and Facebook.
Some are mid-market innovators, such as Bognet Construction, BTI360, NeoSystems, and Basecamp.
We cover a wide range of industries, ranging from CrossFit to Cirque du Soleil. Chocolate manufacturers to cranberry cooperatives. Churches to construction companies.
The book will be published in 2019.
ONE WORD - ALIGNMENT
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. Startups are worried about survival, and spinouts are worried about cutting the corporate umbilical cord.
Third, companies have different operating models and management philosophies. 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?”