A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission.
Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment.
“Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment. When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop in from outer space and infer your vision from the operations and activities of the company without ever reading ii on paper or meeting a single senior executive. Creating alignment may be your most important work. “ [from “Building Your Company’s Vision,” by James Collins and Jerry Porras, Harvard Business Review (Sept-Oct 1996)]
Alignment is not a new word in English, but its usage is new in the world of leadership and organization. Normally, “alignment” is used in the military to “bring a formation of soldiers in line” or to line up exactly behind one another. It has a second common usage with those who work with automobile engines to bring the pistons up and down movement into “alignment” with the electrical spark, so they would work together. … be in harmony with one another.
Alignment means that all elements of a whole are lined up with the same point.
When a group, team or organization is in alignment, the result or benefit is that the efforts of the parts are in line with or moving in the same direction or focused on the same goal. The point around which all the parts align themselves must be clear, and in the case of people, must be compelling.
Unity enhances alignment but differs slightly in that alignment focuses on an external point of reference and is active and dynamic. One can have unity while at the same time not be aligned. Unity in diversity is a blessing, but focused diversity (alignment) is strategic.
Next week we’ll look at how to practically bring alignment into our leadership context.