Saturday, November 6, 2010

Organization Alignment - Demonstration

Stephen Covey has a very dramatic demonstration that he uses to illustrate organizational alignment. In a large room with hundreds of people, he asks everyone to close their eyes. Next he tells everyone to raise there arm and point to true north. He then tells people to open their eyes and look around.

Everyone is pointing in different directions. He then asks the group to imagine that they had to take ten steps in the direction they were pointing. Obviously total chaos would result. He then pulls out a compass and shows everyone where true north is. With a compass, everyone could take ten steps in the same direction and the entire large group would be going in the same direction without bumping into each other.

Achieving alignment is one of the most elusive dimensions of business success. Applying Covey's demonstration, the first step is deciding which direction do we want to go. Where is "true north" for our organization? This may sound simple, but many organizations fail to get agreement at the top levels of where true north is for the organization. Instead, functional or department leaders create their own idea of true north. For an organization to have a chance of achieving a high degree of alignment, there has to be one true north for the entire organization. The definition of true north includes the vision, mission, and values of the organization. It also includes the key strategic objectives that support the mission and vision.

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