Straight line

Perhaps an oversimplified take on Organizational alignment, but sometimes(most times) it boils down to (to start with) a set of two to three behaviors as explained in the analogy here.

There was a simple instruction given in the PT class at school to form a straight line with the rest of the students – just look at the student to your right and to your left and align the shoulders & feet. One need not step out of the line to look at the entire line and realign oneself to get it right/straight (in fact that wouldn’t help). It was enough to appreciate the fact that a simple act of looking left and right and aligning with your immediate student (ecosystem) was enough. It lead to the desired result of a group of students aligning themselves in a straight line with ease. Oh yeah! we didn’t fight then saying “why should I align with you, you align with me!”. It was more a participatory sort of alignment and self-adjusting behavior to just get it done and wait for more inputs. Line formation was a precursor to something that would ensue, something fun like splitting up into teams to play a game or learn something new. There was the PT teacher correcting any deviations and setting the orientation (or may be the starting position) for the entire line.

Children

Fun begins after the line is formed

How wonderful would it be if working in (and with) complex and diverse teams delivering to a (common goal) was as simple as just looking left and right, knowing how each team (or each individual in a team) impacted the other and effortlessly align with each other instead of trying to step on each other or introduce a drift (my kind of straight line is better than yours!). Well may be it is that simple indeed in principle…if we trieduntil we got it right! And look up to the PT teacher – the company values & mission – to get the orientation right in case of a drift.

For it is not getting in the straight line that matters – the alignment is only the beginning -to start having fun and playing the real game (of delivering something of value to your end-customers).

Working in silos anybody? Time to remember the PT classes!

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Categories: Abstractikon, Experiential, Storeez

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22 replies

  1. Just relating this thought process and extrapolating to how behemoths like Nokia, Kodak, Toys R Us, Yahoo, BlackBerry, Polaroid, etc almost vanished in a span of few years after reaching their respective pinnacle shows how they failed to capitalize on their strengths and ceased to “align” with consumers’ ever-changing tastes and needs.

    It’s imperative to understand that “Change is the only Constant” and those ignore it or fail to adapt and align accordingly are bound to perish.

    Interesting times ahead in the age of “Automation”, “Artificial Intelligence” where every job which does not deal with Stakeholder Management, Key Decision Making etc may come into Crossfire impacting all IT Companies in one way or the other.

    As the popular saying goes-“AI is coming” ala “Winter is coming”.

    Once again highly relevant and striking post on Alignment or the lack of it. 🙂

  2. Indeed Alignment is key to success for any team and organization to achieve there vision.You have expressed it in an excellent way Phani,well arciulated by taking school days example that we all can easily relate to 👍👍☺️☺️

  3. Collaboration is one important key to success, and alignment is indeed important to be in line 🙂

  4. A thought provoking post!
    It is good to see a different yet simple post which makes the readers reflect and not just read and clap. This post is just like an abstract painting where people read according to their (experience)Knowledge and wisdom.

    Alignment is the most important as well the biggest challenge at the same time, since its not an easy task with different mindsets/points of view. Forget about a small organisation, i would say without alignment(of the planets) there would not be a melodious song nor would one perceive the recurring yet an exceptional eclipse.
    So to reach a ”marvellous state” alignment is an essential attribute. I feel that the goal, either at the individual level or the bigger level reflects(drives) whether a person would want to align or not, the bigger the goal the greater the appeal to alignment.

    Coincidentally came across a research paper on alignment-
    https://coachcampus.com/coach-portfolios/research-papers/rosie-kropp-the-importance-of-values-and-value-alignment-in-working-life/

    La gloire! Please do continue such variations in posts. Thank you.

  5. For once I don’t agree with you my friend. I don’t think organisations like ours need alignment, they need disruption, diversity and courage to fail.
    Anarchy is never good, but creativity and innovation is. Right? Not always sure what the difference is in practical terms, but the fact is that sometimes we have to be brave enough to allow ourselves to be challenged and contradicted. Only that way will we continue to grow.

    • Thanks Jan! Absolutely true, in the case that you cited the alignment is for the theme of disruption (there are research institutes for e.g., that rely on disruption as their “mission” and courage as their “value” for everyone in the company to look up to).

  6. Great one Phani.. But there will be at least one guy in the team who will never align..

  7. You make life sound so simple! I guess we often mix up leadership with power and domination and subordinate with servitude. Humility and loyalty have become vestegial.
    At school, we had no point to prove by forming a line…hence everybody complied. But the companies and organizations are passing down their hunger to its employees and expecting each to transcend each other inorder to prove themselves worthy. Being normal is being an ‘underperformer’. This constant push to prove ones mettle is resulting in chaos and disdain.
    It is more important to foster team work and recognise a team rather than select individuals. It requires a leadership that reaches the top out of maturity and evolution and not a number promotions, to act that way.

    • Absolutely! And I think you have really articulated the reasons for the “drift” from the anectodal straight line that I have mentioned. Successful leaders /organizations try to control this drift via inspirational leadership/backbone of values.

      Thank you for sharing your reflections Aesthete! 🙂

    • Aesthete, I feel that in school (almost) everyone vied with everyone else to be the teacher’s pet… (or some other reason – top marks, first rank, most-likely-to-succeed, what-have-you) and that idea has remained in our minds even after we began working… It begins as kids, and even as adults, we idolize lone rangers and heroes, not teams! (Perhaps The Avengers and Justice League the exception?)
      I don’t think “organizations” expect people to ‘transcend each other’ (as an aside, I wonder why you chose the word ‘transcend’!) – after all, an organization is nothing but a bunch of people – and at some point, it’s the culture that the people create (or give an impression of having created) that sets the tone for the folks that are “lower” in the pecking order.

      My two pesos, mature leadership alone isn’t good enough – even the teams need to align and understand the direction in which the leadership’s pointing; if they continue to focus on individual progress and not on the team’s progress, it won’t help much.

      • Hi Ravi.

        About the school…yes there are different competitions and all…but here I was just talking about going in a line or the discipline part.

        True that Organizations are group of people….but the group comprises those that set it up with a purpose and somewhere down the line the purpose takes over thoughtfulness. One is seldom able to strike a balance between personal and professional life and is constantly under pressure to do more and more.

        Yes, a good leadership doesnt achieve much without a team that aligns. But the change has to begin somewhere. And in my view, the change is more effective when it starts from the people that we look up to. A teacher has a greater influence on the students, a good boss has a greater influence on his subordinates than vice versa.

        I am just putting forth my point of view.. I may be wrong….if i am convinced with something on this platform, i might even begin to look at things differently. 😊

  8. Oversimplification, definitely! 🙂
    Most kids can’t wait to be all grown up… but most grown-ups wish for a simpler life, like the one they had when they were kids! It *is* simple, but if only it was that easy!

    Alignment reminds me of the ‘Spotify Engineering Culture’ video (first part) – for those visiting this blog (and patient enough to read this comment, here’s the URL if you haven’t watched it yet: https://labs.spotify.com/2014/03/27/spotify-engineering-culture-part-1/).

    A lot of people end up questioning the ‘PT Teacher’ and stating that what (s)he says is impossible / unattainable / overzealous and so on, and give up hope without giving it a shot! Also, alignment is relatively easier when the ‘classroom’ strength can be counted on one’s fingers (assuming one has ten); any more, and it gets really complicated… and the larger the strength, the more the siloed / misaligned / varied behaviours…

    • Yes and that’s why culture (looking left and right figuratively) helps and appreciating the fact that embracing an empathetic practice helps the ecosystem. And the real fun starts after that 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Important and relevant points, Phani. I would also say – How wonderful would it be !!

  10. Very well written, as always! In my view, this kind of team alignment is usually easy to achieve. The misalignment occurs, once a person is part of multiple teams and tries to align oneself to multiple teams and goals at the same time. If one is at cross-roads to align with multiple teams and goals, then a decision needs to be taken as to which team one should align to, without causing a big disturbance with other teams.

  11. Nice one Phani.

  12. Yet another great analogy drawn ..
    Align to Shine!

  13. Very good, this reminds me the quote ” think globally, act locally ” 😀

  14. True…. Most of the times organization fail to create single goal to align… Where every employee speak about it in an uniform and consistent way

  15. Good one Phani…Sarin

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