Monday, June 12th, 2017


Getting your entire organization to run as one is where extraordary power sleeps.
Call it alignment or synchronization or  organizational effectiveness or plain ol’ coordination.
There are many analogies used. I like thinking of the CEO as a great orchestra conductor
interpreting a laid out plan (the score) and creating something great out of what could be very disparate sounds. I know of a CEO who took his team to hear and study and discuss a famous orchestra.

BUT–that does engender dependence on one leader with each section knowing in detail only the part they play. Alignment is working with surface parts and how to streamline and smooth out the bumps. It is really coordinated action–often mistaken for collaboration. Deep collaboration is very important but involves people being together to do it. Often with time and distance and other work, the product of collaboration dissipates. A modern leader has to go deeper to steep the company in common direction and identity.

l. Do you rely only on company goals to guide organizational action?

2.Is project management a primary tool for keeping action on track?

3.Do ‘projects’ rule the major momentum of your company? How do you tie it in to the everyday work of the organization?

4. Do you tell people what and how, model it, co-create it, teach it?

5. Do you personally spot test your company for understanding organizational direction and why it matters?  And how their individual work can and does contribute.

6. Do you evaluate your direct reports on the deep understanding of the business of their direct reports and functions?

I am talking aout the need for everyone in your company to have the DNA of the direction of your company in their bones. It is not about organizing the surface of the work–the action guided by strategy and goals and the leaders. It is about dipping so deep into the organization and into the work that after inculcating people, they could be self managed most of the time.

This kind of deep dip will be needed for 20/20 as the workplace continues to become less and less geographically and physically connected. People who work at home need the DNA. People who work on different continents and countries need the invisible connective tissue. And people who connect only through technology will need it too.

The analogy of healthy parenting is similar. Instill the disciplines of daily living. Instill the rich
personal connections of family connections. Build common understanding of who this particular family is–history, pride, common events. Articulate and model the values that make this unique family work.

Sounds good. But. But. But.  It  depends on how hard you want to work and when.
You either put in time consuming hard work at the beginning of a culture shift or new organizational effort or you put it in later, monitoring and correcting and speechifying all the time.
You either engage in creating deep motivation or you spend a fortune on engagement efforts
and cosmetic and constant make-overs.

I have seen DNA be developed by a CEO who over the first year of his tenure took the time
to co-create with his top 150 people using innovative methods that were risky at the time.
It wasn’t just the time, it was the methodology that dug deep. Guided imagery, creative expressions of new thoughts, detailed and deep conversations within and across functions leading to the what and how of the future, all absorbed and reflected back by the CEO. It took a year.
These ‘town meetings’ were made up of 350 people. Twelve were held. They continued as they cascaded down and across the organization. No outside facilitation. Leaders were trained to do the support work. This charged the battery of the company for about five years with occasional re-charging which, to follow the family analogy, were like family reunions. It takes extraordinary effort and time but reaps power thrust, deep motivation and
clarity of company direction that can become self-driven and still be on point with strategy. So tempting not to do it, or do it poorly without, you the CEO being committed. It will be essential for you to do in the twenties.


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