Alignment is a complex, multidimensional problem.

Therefore, aligning your company requires an integrated, multidisciplinary approach.

The Drive One Direction® methodology includes twelve components. We call these components “The Twelve Accelerators™.” As you will see, each starts with the word “One.”

One Team. One Vision. One Strategy.

These are twelve components of your corporate core. A strong corporate core is like a stabilizing centripetal force that keeps everyone—and everything—aligned.

You don’t develop six-pack abs because you did some sit-ups three years ago. Likewise, you don’t create a strong corporate core because you printed some core values posters three years ago.

Developing a strong corporate core is essential. The stronger your corporate core, the faster your company can grow.


Every company has a culture.

But most are characterized by silos, fiefdoms, and divisions.

The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas set in seventeenth-century Paris. It tells the story of a young man named d'Artagnan who wants to join the Musketeers of the Guard.

The Three Musketeers made the phrase “all for one and one for all” famous (“tous pour un, et un pour tous”).

All for One and One for All.

This sounds a lot easier than it is. Unfortunately, the cultural dynamic we often see is “All for me and none for you!”

That is why SHIFTPOINTS starts with challenging companies to build a One-Company culture that unifies and aligns everyone.

Unfortunately, Bain & Company research found that only 10 percent of companies have a One-Company culture.

Peter Drucker famously said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” That sounds good, but I am not sure it is true.

What is true is that companies with One-Company cultures can leverage the full breadth and depth of the firm to win and serve customers. These highly aligned companies eat their fragmented and dysfunctional competitors for breakfast … lunch … and dinner!

Ideally, your company has built the One-Company mindset into your culture from Day One.

If, however, you have allowed your culture to disintegrate into warring tribes and dysfunctional fiefdoms, your transformation starts with embracing the One-Company model.

Does your company have a One-Company culture?


Every company has an executive team.

But most operate more like a team of rivals.

Your corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for creating alignment. Therefore, the must operate as One Team.

In addition, the entire corporate executive team must embrace alignment as a critical corporate initiative. There are several reasons for this:

  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the company’s multiple divisions, departments, functions, and geographies.
  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the interests of the company’s multiple stakeholders, including investors, creditors, employees, boards, vendors, customers, governments, the communities where you operate, and more. These stakeholders often have competing interests which must be aligned.
  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the company’s multiple strategies, tactics, goals, priorities, and initiatives into a coherent corporate strategic plan (One Plan).
  • The corporate executive team is ultimately responsible for aligning the company’s resources—both human and financial—with the corporate strategy. Budgets must be allocated. Headcounts must be approved.
  • Each corporate executive has the responsibility to align their functional area. The Chief Financial Officer must consolidate the budgets. The Chief Marketing Officer must integrate the marketing plans. The Chief Sales Officer must roll up the sales forecasts.

Finally, the corporate team “sets the bar” for alignment. If they are not aligned as One Team, the rest of the organization will be dysfunctional. They must be role models for alignment. A misaligned executive team will never create an aligned company.

That is worth repeating: a misaligned executive team will never create an aligned company.

Does your executive team operate as One Team?


Every company has a vision.

But most of them are pretty blurry.

Only 35 percent of adults have 20/20 vision, and an even smaller percentage of companies do.

Most companies suffer from some sort of vision disorder, such as myopia—where they can’t focus on the long-term, or tunnel vision—where they get blindsided by market shifts and discontinuities.

Worse yet, according to Achievers’ North America Workforce report, a whopping 60 percent of employees did not know their company’s vision.

Fast-lane companies create alignment by having just One Vision. After all, how can you create One Company when every division has a different vision?

While it is critical to have One Vision, there are many ways to articulate one. In fact, we discovered four common ways:

  • The “visionary” vision
  • The “inspiring” vision
  • The “company ambition” vision
  • The "Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)" vision

Of course, you can't just create the vision, you must make the case for it. Every executive—not just the CEO—must be able to passionately articulate the vision and can explain why this is your vision.

Of all the visions you could have chosen, why did you select this One? If you can’t answer that question, no one will buy in.

Does your company have One Vision?


Your company has a mission.

Otherwise, you should not exist.

The term “mission statement” first appeared in an obscure U.S. Department of Commerce document published in 1960. Since then, it has become conventional wisdom to suggest that companies should have One.

While every company has a mission, our research revealed that many—but certainly not all—companies have mission statements.

Crafting a corporate mission statement can be an excruciating process.

In 1983, Bain and Company, the management consulting firm, embarked on the process of crafting a mission statement. The senior partners of the firm spent five days holed up in a cabin in New Hampshire. They agonized over every word and ultimately crafted this statement:

“We help our clients create such high levels of value that together we set new standards of excellence in our respective industries.”

Bill Bain, their founder and CEO, described it this way, “This is the combination of those things that we already do when we are at our best and those things that we need to do to be at our best more often.”

While most of the mission statements we reviewed were vanilla and uninspiring, a well-crafted One—like Bain’s—can help companies create alignment.

Of course, it is not enough to have One Mission; you must use your mission to guide both big strategic decisions and everyday tactics. You must align everyone—and everything—with it. You must prune things that are not aligned with your mission.

Is your company on One Mission?


Every company has values.

But most struggle to make them more than just words on posters.

According to Wikipedia, a value system is “a set of consistent ethic values and measures used for the purpose of ethical or ideological integrity. A well-defined value system is a moral code.”

Most—but certainly not all—of the companies we studied had a codified list of core values.

Unfortunately, core values can also be a source of cynicism. Sadly, several CEOs we interviewed did not have their company’s values memorized. Dozens of employees shared stories of executives whose behaviors were in direct violation of their company’s values. Perhaps millions have been impacted by other forms of corporate hypocrisy. has built a very nice business selling posters mocking core values. Here are a few examples:

  • Perseverance: The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.
  • Procrastination: Hard work pays off over time, but laziness always pays off now.
  • Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late.

Unfortunately, Gallup’s research revealed that only 23 percent of employees know how to apply their company’s values to their work. Nonetheless, we included core values as one of the Accelerators because many exemplar companies used them effectively to create alignment. Some of the common best practices include:

  • They codified their values into One integrated value system. We call this your One Code.
  • They passionately communicate the values, so everyone knows what they are.
  • The employees—especially the senior executives—live them, breathe them, and personify them.
  • They only hire people who share their values, and never tolerate behavior that violates them.
  • They infuse their values into every fiber of the company, aligning every process, guiding every decision.
  • They reward and recognize people who demonstrate their values.
  • They justify them, so everyone knows WHY these are the values.
  • They translate their values into a set of expected behaviors. (Netflix calls this their “Culture Code.”)

Core values can’t be seen on the balance sheet, but they can be one of your company’s most valuable assets. They can allow a company to withstand a crisis. They can guide leaders faced with radically complex decisions.

Assuming they are more than just words on posters in the break room.

Does your company have One Code of conduct?


Every company has a corporate strategy.

But most people don’t understand what it is.

In a Strategy& survey of more than 1,900 executives, an astounding 80 percent said their strategy was not well understood within their own company.

Obviously, people can’t align with—or execute—a strategy they don’t understand.

Strategy is “one of those words.” Every company needs One, but even the strategy consulting firms don’t have a common definition for what a strategy is.

Rather than create a new definition of strategy or propose yet another framework, SHIFTPOINTS focuses on five critical strategy questions every company must answer in order to provide clarity to the organization:

  • Which market segment(s) should you target?
  • What product(s) and/or service(s) should you sell?
  • Where should you compete?
  • How much should you charge?
  • What is your business model?

To unleash the accelerating power of alignment, your company must answer them clearly and precisely.

Has your company aligned everything into One Strategy?


Every company does lots of things.

Sadly, most never become truly great at anything.

In 1990, C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel introduced the idea of corporate competencies in a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Core Competence of the Corporation.”

More recently, Strategy&, the strategy consulting arm of PwC, advised companies to develop a set of “differentiating capabilities.” However, they do so with a word of caution:

“Too many companies don’t identify the few cross-functional capabilities they need to excel at in order to deliver on their value proposition. Not being clear about those capabilities, functions often decide to pursue functional excellence in silos. They strive to be world-class at everything they do, but often spread their resources too thin, and they don’t excel at anything.”

We strongly agree.

That is why we advise companies to pick ONE corporate competency and make it their One Thing.

Try to complete this sentence, “We are the best in the world at ______________.”

Most companies cannot honestly fill in that blank. After all, only One Company can be the best in the world.

However, every company can aspire to become the best in the world at something. So, every company can—and should—complete this sentence, “Our ambition is to become the best in the world at _____________.”

Step One is to choose something that your company could indeed become the best in the world at. And of course, there are many things that you can choose.

Step two is to align everyone—and everything—with your One Thing. After all, becoming the best in the world will require intense focus and disciplined investment. This is what turns your One Thing into a Differentiating Competitive Advantage.

Is your company differentiatingly great at One Thing?


Every company has a corporate brand.

But most are undifferentiated and uninspiring.

Here’s the problem: people don’t align with undifferentiated and uninspiring brands.

Your corporate brand has many functions.

First, your corporate brand must be an umbrella. It must be large enough to cover all your products and services. It must work in all your geographies. It must appeal to all your stakeholders.

Second, your corporate brand must identify who you are and differentiate you from your competitors. Some of the key components of your corporate brand include:

  • Your company name
  • Your corporate logo
  • Your corporate visual identity
  • Your corporate value proposition
  • Your corporate personality
  • Your corporate tagline

So, perhaps you are thinking, “We have these things … so, we are aligned, right?”

Remember, people don’t align with undifferentiated and uninspiring brands. So, just because you have them does not automatically mean that they are any good.

Finally, your corporate brand must be a powerful magnet. It must attract the right people—including employees, customers, partners, and investors—to your company.

Does your company have One (inspiring) Brand?


Every company has corporate standards.

But most have never optimized them.

When something is a corporate standard, it means that you have One—and Only One—Way of doing something. This might be as mundane as having One—and Only One—Way to complete an expense form or as significant as having One—and Only One—Way to perform heart transplants.

Companies make all kinds of things a corporate standard, such as:

  • Their unique way of doing business
  • Mission-critical business processes
  • Policies or rules
  • Dress codes
  • Software applications
  • The exact size and furniture for every office
  • And more

Theoretically, these corporate standards are absolutely, positively, and non-negotiably the same everywhere in your company.

Everyone must comply with them. No exceptions.

While standardization can improve alignment, we advise companies to find the right balance. If nothing is standardized, there is chaos and anarchy. If everything is standardized, your company is a stifling bureaucracy.

Has your company optimized your One Way processes?

ONE PLANOne-Plan-Test

Every company makes plans.

For some, their long-range strategic plan outlines what they are going to do after lunch.

Fast-lane companies use both the planning process and the codified plan to accelerate alignment.

Unfortunately, according to Bain and Company, only 60 percent of executives think that their company’s planning process is effective.

Ideally, the output of an effective planning process is One clearly codified Plan. Most corporate plans contain the following elements:

  • A strategic plan
  • An annual operating plan
  • A financial forecast and associated departmental budgets
  • A headcount plan
  • Strategic initiatives (the critical few) that are essential to accomplishing the plan

Ideally, your company will have just One Plan.

To document the plan, some companies create a deck of slides, some create a narrative, some create infographics, and others use cloud-based software.

Our preference is to summarize it on One Page.

Regardless of how you document it, it is imperative that you effectively communicate it.

Obviously, people cannot execute a plan they don’t understand.

Does your company consolidate everything into One Plan?


When 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, it is important to align them.

Companies must align the divisions with corporate and they align the divisions with each other.

In addition, each division adds their 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 division.

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.

Does your organization structure create One Design?


Every company wants everyone to be aligned.

But most are focused on engagement.

Dozens of companies have developed surveys to measure employee engagement. These are often tied to the multitude of “Best Places to Work” awards.

When you evaluate the questions in employee engagement surveys, most focus on things like company benefits, work/life balance, and the quality of the coffee.

While it is good to have employees who are engaged, it is infinitely more important that they are aligned. After all, highly engaged employees can still be driving in the wrong direction.

There are many things that you want everyone to align with. For example, you want everyone to:

  • Align their behaviors with your company’s code.
  • Align their customer interactions with your company’s brand promise.
  • Align their decisions with your company’s strategy.
  • Align their actions with your company’s way.
  • Align their goals with your company’s goals.

Of course, this assumes that you have clearly defined all those things.

After all, how can you hire people who are aligned with your vision if your vision is blurry? How can you train people to accomplish your mission if you don’t know what it is? How can you incentivize people to deliver your brand promise if you don’t have one?

That is why the first eleven Accelerators focus on clarifying those things.

In addition, exemplar companies implement human resources standards that everyone must adhere to. For example, they have One standardized onboarding program. One standardized introductory course (One 101). Their internal communications program delivers One Message.

Is everyone in your company aligned as One?


In summary, the Drive One Direction® methodology starts with The Twelve Accelerators.

Is your company "twelve for twelve?"

If not, we would love to work with you.

Finally, we have a big tool box of other "Ones" that can unleash the acceleration power of alignment.

For some companies, having One Target Market is part of their corporate core. For USAA, it is the military.

Others add One Price Point to their corporate core. For Dollar Tree, it is One Dollar!

Thus, we advise each client to start with The Twelve Accelerators and modify them to optimize their unique, One-of-a-Kind Corporate Core.

Does your company have a strong corporate core?

The alignment management SYSTEM (AMS)One-System

Every company has a system for managing the business.

But most are not particularly systematized.

That is why the next step in the Drive One Direction methodology is to optimize your Alignment Management System.

In the classic Harvard Business Review article, “Mastering the Management System,” professors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton describe the need for a management system:

“In our experience, however, breakdowns in a company’s management system, not managers’ lack of ability or effort, are what cause a company’s underperformance. By management system, we’re referring to the integrated set of processes and tools that a company uses to develop its strategy, translate it into operational actions, and monitor and improve the effectiveness of both.”

There are dozens of different management systems. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • The Balanced Scorecard, developed by Harvard Business School professors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton
  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), developed by Andy Grove at Intel
  • The Rockefeller Habits, developed by Verne Harnish
  • The Entrepreneurial Operating System, developed by Geno Wickman and Don Tinney
  • The Working Together Management System, developed by Alan Mulally
  • Holocracy, developed by Holocracy One
  • The Top Gear System, developed by SHIFTPOINTS
  • And many others

Each of these systems can be effective, but we advise clients to pick One of them. When a company adopts One System as your Alignment Management System, it provides a common language, which speeds communication and reduces friction.

Does your company have One Alignment Management System?