Introduction - Ingredient 4 - Creating Alignment

. After laying the foundation, a sense of urgency has been established and a powerful guiding coalition is selected, it is part of that guiding coalition's role to initiate and develop an alignment which involves linking marketplace realities, top management aspirations, workforce energy and initiative

. The sense of urgency needs to be acknowledged, (including the identification of the particular business you are in, the factors critical for success of the organisation and the strategic issues facing the business) and the transitional team established, prior to progressing to alignment.

· The power of combining a vision with a sense of urgency. President John Kennedy's statement about NASA getting man to the moon and back safely within a decade created vision or focus. The sense of urgency was created by the perception that the Soviet Union, USA's competitor in the Cold War, was ahead of the USA in scientific endeavour, which provided the impetus for more students to study science. As a result, the average age of staff at NASA when they landed a man on the moon was 28 years old (ABC, 2014)

. It is better to make decisions based on aspirations and not desperation. It is also important to recognise that the capabilities and direction that made the organisation successful in the past will not guarantee to produce that level of success in the future.

. Alignment can be defined as the extent to which statements, such as vision, mission, values, etc are part of the culture and are being carried out and performed by staff. Alignment starts with 4 basics:

- knowing what you have to do

- knowing how to do it

- understanding that it is easy to do

- having good line managers

"...Alignment comes back to the barbecue test: the person who likes their employer will make others want to work there too. And the people who like their employers find those four basic things all line up..."

James Garriock as quoted by Mark Abernethy, 2007

. Alignment gives a common understanding and agreement on the important issues facing the organisation to handle the future direction, and makes the organisation less susceptible to fads and fashions.

. Alignment involves organisational leaders creating a sense of community that helps staff identify with the layers of organisation in a way that transcends personal interest and particular responsibilities, ie instills a sense of purpose. Staff who share an organisation's ambitions and values, and whose jobs allow them to contribute to those ambitions and values, have a stronger incentive to collaborate than do staff whose only incentives are financial.

. While people can be motivated by threats and fear, positive motivation such as alignment via a shared focus/vision/purpose is more lasting.

. Alignment is a way to get around the perception or credibility problem. Our experience-induced perceptions greatly influence our feelings, beliefs and behaviour, and result in our placing people in "stereotypes" and pre-judging them. It has been found that unless there is a good feeling between people, they will find it almost impossible to reason together because of the emotional barrier. Sometimes these perception problems are defined as "personality conflicts" or "communication breakdowns" ie

"...If you disagree with me, in my eyes you are automatically wrong, simply because

I am sure that I'm right..."

. In the absence of accurate information, "facts" will be created and perceptions formed; thus the need to communicate:

- repetition of the message to reassure staff ie consistency of message for reinforcement

- clarify roles

- empower staff to solve problems

- constantly keep your "ear to the ground" (use all communication vehicles including informal ones such as tea rooms, lifts, etc)

. A shared purpose is the result of the latching onto the logic of the heart or emotion, more than the logic of the mind. The logic of the heart is stronger than the logic of the mind - how we feel dominates how we think. One looks for a shared purpose in the eyes and expressions of the people, not in the memos and speeches of their leaders.

. Linked with a shared purpose is shared information. Never under-estimate the value of shared information, as it fosters a sense of mutual partnership, an understanding that we are all in this together.

. Encourage! Encourage! Encourage! Encourage! Encourage! Encourage!

- encourage staff to struggle with the unfamiliar present

- express genuine optimism about the future

- restate your belief in staff to meet the challenges, and foster self-confidence and creativity

- find realistic and genuine ways to acknowledge their skills and competence

- congratulate staff on aspects that are going well

- support staff when crises arise

- review how things are working, and assist staff to learn from these experiences

. Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen!

- encourage free discussion and expression of feelings

- listen to feedback, irrespective of the accuracy of the feedback

- listen to all comments and concerns, irrespective of how uncomfortable, irrational, emotive, etc

. Honesty is important. Otherwise, staff lose confidence in the process, and this affects the credibility of the change and those leading it.

. Trust and personal reflection are significant linkages in change management. People feel vulnerable unless they can trust the managers championing the change. A trust gap arises if management values and objectives are not clear and credible - resulting in low credibility of the change initiative. This trust gap also generates a reflection gap, ie with little safety for reflection and dialogue, people never develop the clarity about their own values and aims necessary to become generally enthusiastic and committed to the change process.

. It is important to encourage personal reflection at work. Only then can people align their personal aims with the organisation's values and aims. Only then will reflectiveness contribute to commitment. Who knows how much of the reflective genius of staff is never applied within their workplace? This is an immense loss for them as individuals and for the organisation. Closely associated with the reflection process is experimentation and setting the example.

. One of the aims of a shared purpose is to give staff a clear sense in their minds of how their activities contribute to the entire undertaking, ie that their work is linked to a greater purpose.

. It must be more than a statement of the objectives; unfortunately, people tend to identify with the objectives more readily than the purpose and mission. "To make a fair return on equity" and "to produce top quality goods" are objectives, while "to produce the best possible containers" is a shared purpose statement which would accommodate a switch from manufacturing glass bottles to plastic ones.

. A shared purpose demonstrates an aligned organisation.

. A shared purpose may need to change over time; thus the need to review it.

. New values cannot be instilled through a crash course, nor should existing belief systems be thrown out or subverted without careful consideration of the effect on the relationship between the organisation and its members. In fact, the goal of most organisations should be to build on the strengths and modify the limitations of the existing sets of values, not to make radical changes in values. And where value confrontation is essential, it requires skilful attention, not a broadside attack.

. Values drive our behaviours (including decisions) more than rules, regulations, laws, etc. The right values drive people to be authentic, take ownership, be accountable, more transparent, etc; it drives a better outcome for all stakeholders including customers. 

. It is fine to emphasize what we must shoot for, but we also need to know what we stand for. Despite their best efforts, many organisations find strategic and operating imperatives block or erode the values they strive to build. The reason is that such goals and objectives are inevitably quantified, whereas value statements usually offer neither clearly defined goals nor satisfactory methods. Unavoidably, the hard drives out the soft, and commitment to the desired values dissipates.

. Targets and financial indicators or measures like ROI will not really galvanize an organisation into action ‐ people need to be able to identify and own them. Identifying, communicating and shaping organisational values is more difficult than articulating a strategic purpose because an organisation's values rely less on analysis and logic, and more on emotion and intuition. Moreover, well-established organisations operate on a set of beliefs and philosophies that usually remain implicit. Financial objectives are popular performance measures in part because they are safe, ie people won't dispute them.

. Organisations that assert more boldly what they stand for typically attract and retain staff who identify with their values and consequently become more deeply committed to the organisation that embodies them. Staff are loyal not to a particular boss or organisation but to a set of values they believe in and find satisfying. This is what real alignment is about, eg The Body Shop.

. Alignment can be created by 3 linked conditions:

i) building the new philosophy around the company's existing value and belief system

ii) maintaining a high level of personal involvement in this activity over many years

iii) translating broad philosophical objectives and invisible values into measurable goals

. The aim of alignment is to convert contractual employees from being economic entities into committed members of a professional organisation.

. Traditionally, senior management have tried to engage staff intellectually through the persuasive logic of strategic analyses. But clinically-framed and contractually-based relationships do not inspire the extraordinary efforts and sustained commitment required to deliver consistently superior performance. For that, organisations need staff who care ‐ those who have a strong emotional link with the organisation.

. This is best done by working to embed a clearly articulated, well-defined ambition in the psyche of every individual while giving each person the freedom to interpret the organisation's broad objectives creatively 

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