Stop Obsessing About Organizational Alignment

I was recently asked a question that I hear a lot, how do we get alignment across our large, complex organization? This is an important question since the path to Experience Management (XM) often requires large-scale change.

I’m now just saying: Stop focusing so much on it. Instead of trying to gain full alignment before you begin, build it over time in an iterative manner that I’m calling Agile Alignment.

When people think about transformation, they often make a false assumption┬áthat alignment is required prior to change. They believe that it’s a prerequisite to get all of the key stakeholders on the same page. It isn’t.

If you have limited bandwidth (which is the case for just about everyone I’ve ever worked with), then you have to make trade-offs on where you spend your time and energy. At a simplistic level, you will be faced with deciding between trying to build alignment with people who are not pre-disposed to supporting your efforts, or focusing on driving some elements on your change agenda. My argument is that, on the margin, the latter can be much more productive than the former.

We often assume that alignment is a precursor to change. But let me introduce a new thought: Successful change is the precursor to true alignment. In other words, you may be able to get people passively on-board with your plans, but they aren’t truly on-board until they see something is working and on the path to success.

The ideal approach for driving transformation, therefore, is an iterative process that I’m calling Agile Alignment. It goes like this:

  1. Identify key stakeholders who are actively aligned
  2. Drive successful change initiatives with those aligned stakeholders
  3. Build alignment with a larger group of stakeholders
  4. Go back to step #2

This way, you keep expanding the scope of your efforts and the breadth of your alignment over time.

The bottom line: True alignment follows success.

 

 

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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