How to create organizational alignment: 3 simple – but not easy – steps

Before I dive into how to create organizational alignment, I want you picture two different scenarios. I promise this will lead to a the 3 steps to help get your organization aligned.

Picture two scenarios:

  1. The Harvard Rowing Team, practicing just after sunrise on the Thames River.
  2. Saturday morning at a local park, packed with 7-year-olds playing soccer.

Those are pretty different pictures in your mind. The first is a peaceful, organized setting where the rowers are all rowing in unison, gliding through the water.

The second one may cause some PSD from previous kid’s soccer experiences, but the park is a wild west of talent and a breeding ground for distraction. If there is such a thing as a “good” 7-year-old soccer team, the best you could hope for is 11 players all following the ball at varying speeds and intensities.

This post is 4th in a series about the Velocity Vector.

What is the Velocity Vector?

The Velocity Vector: The chain reaction towards success If you can provide clarity, you’ll naturally have people making more informed decisions. If people are making more informed decisions, you’ll have alignment in the organization. Once you have alignment, it’s off to the races. That’s where decision velocity comes in. If you can reach decision velocity, you will accelerate towards your goals and promises.

Organizational Alignment: What I’ve seen

The same thing happens in organizations. There are organizations I get the chance to experience where their alignment almost feels like magic. People can finish each other’s sentences. Everyone knows the ultimate goal. The organization even has a strong commander’s intent AND a strong operating cadence to insure the strategy comes to life and everyone contributes to its success. If you’ve experienced it before, it’s palpable.

But I’ve also experienced the opposite, unfortunately, most of the time. While there is no physical ball to chase, people in the organization are jumping from fire to fire, putting out the hot topic of the moment and forever feeling like they do not have enough time. There’s jockeying for attention and budget. The whole place simply seems chaotic. These companies can still grow, but it’s a lot more difficult.

The tale of two different organizations.

In the first organization (on the left), their communication really looks like disjointed. One person may communicate something to someone one way, another a completely different way. Their scattered focus drives scattered results. In the second organization, their communication really looks like the circle on the right. Their executive leadership team has aligned focus and delivers decision velocity. These companies just take off.

3 Keys to Driving Alignment in your org

It really all comes down to alignment. How do you make sure you have alignment? There are a couple of key steps:

  1. You need to have a leader that their mindset is dedicated to driving clarity in everything they do.
  2. Have your team take the Is Your Team Aligned Assessment, available by getting the Velocity Vector Leadership Guide Here.
  3. The biggest key to alignment that I’ve found sounds too easy to be true: spending time together as an executive team. More importantly, is HOW they spend time. I’ll discuss this in more detail below.

If we’re busy, what’s the first thing to come off our calendar? Often it’s executive meetings, retreats, and 1-on-1s. However, those are crucial to creating alignment.

How to create organizational alignment? Spending time as an executive team

how to create organizational alignment - book the time now

As you grow, you need to treat yourself as well as you treat the customer. You would never repeatedly miss, cancel, or not be present in a customer interaction. Why do we do it with each other then?

I worked with a successful company that experienced explosive growth. They were the darling of their industry, taking on competitors 100x bigger than they were. Their executive team was aligned and amazing. They worked hard but also took the time to laugh and have fun.

But do you know what they did every single Monday? They spent 4 hours together in their executive team meeting. Once a month, they spent a full day together. Every quarter, they spent 2 full days together. How they spent time was where the real magic happened, but the first step was they were committed to the time.

That’s a lot of time to spend with other members of the team, I get it.

However, these meetings were incredibly well-run, had outcomes for every meeting, and an organized agenda. We worked on the agenda together before the meetings to create great experiences not just drive towards outcomes. If you asked anyone that was part of the team why they were so successful, they probably wouldn’t point to the meetings, but they would point to the fact they had an incredibly aligned executive team.

Because their executive team was aligned, the rest of the company was more aligned.

A Cesar Dog Food Campaign focused on how we look like our dogs.

Just like people start looking like their pets, organizations reflect the leader’s alignment or lack thereof. They were able to execute quickly in a highly-regulated and competitive environment. Why? Because they had alignment. This led to incredible decision velocity which led to their success.

The Velocity Vector

What is Decision Velocity?

Decision velocity is simply the ability of your employees to make the right decision quickly. They don’t need to lobby for buy-in or ask permission from the CEO (or other teams) because everyone is aligned around the business’s goals.

This helps the organization (and the CEO) accelerate to the promises and goals they’ve set faster.

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