Creating Essential Alignment

December 7, 2010

 “There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.”

– Freya Stark

Creating alignment is something every business should be consistently doing on an ongoing basis. We’ve talked about how when push comes to shove it’s not your idea that’s relevant but your people and this alignment is what ties that thought together.

People want to belong, they want to fit into an organization but more importantly people want the ability to describe what they do and how that makes a difference in their world. We recently listened to an amazing podcast by author Shawn Achor that speaks to why a happy brain performs better.

Creating alignment is a nonstop process, it always has been and it always will be. There’s no master key to open the lock, there’s no switch that gets flipped that will always turn on that light bulb above your head. There’s only an ongoing effort and constant work that must take place.

One method we use at Business Instincts Group, the Management Consulting group I am a partner in, is to deliver our Personal Summary Objective (PSO) in our morning check-ins. Not only that but each team member delivers their priority for the day and what’s going on for them in their personal life. This allows every member of the team to know and understand what others are doing for the day even if it does not affect their work life for the day.

While the check-in is important for aligning your team with each other, the PSO is critical for aligning each team member individually. As James Bailey and Jonathon Raelin express in a Harvard Business Review Blog Post, changing or leaving an employee’s alignment vague creates an affect similar to a fear of mortality. Since altering alignment or lack of individual alignment can be so dangerous that’s what we’ll focus on today. The importance of creating alignment within each team member.

The creation formula for your PSO is fairly straightforward:

x+(y1)(y2)=z

The formula however isn’t the best point, but rather is strengthened by the individual elements of the formula and how they create the end result.

X = Your greatest resource.

We like to use www.strengthfinder.com to help determine what our top five strengths are as individuals. By no means do you need to use this to discover your strengths, however we use this resource to give us an unclouded perspective. This helps to determine what resource it is that we not only must have to complete our job, but that we use the most on a daily basis. Your answers may vary and will most certainly evolve, which as your grow as a team and as an individual will help to evolve your PSO as well.

Y1 = What you do.

Quite literally, this is what you do. Sit by yourself and think, very clearly think, about what you spend the most time doing during the work day. What is that one word, or those few words that define what it is that you do?

Y2 = Who you do it with.

Once you have your (y1) clearly defined ask yourself who you do it with. Who do you spend most of your time working with, training, selling to, or raising money from. Your (y2) always works in conjunction with your (y1).

Z =What is your result.

This is always going to be the result of your efforts. That’s why formulating your PSO is always an equation. Your (z) is always the result you achieve from your (x), (y1) and (y2). So once again sit and think for however long it takes and determine what it is that at the end of the day your efforts result in.

What you will invariably come up at the end of this procedure is your own PSO, your own method to keep yourself aligned on a daily basis. As an example I’ll share the PSO I have with Business Instincts Group:

I use my (x) insight and experience to (y1) work with (y2) management and investors to (z) determine what is most important and specifically how to get it done.

When it comes down to it, and hopefully these three steps have helped to outline this for you and your startup, the idea you have is just not that relevant. At the end of the day, at the end of every day, it is the people in