A few weeks ago, my son told me about how well his musician friend Megan Davies was doing on the digital music service Spotify. It took me a few moments to translate his ‘millennial’ to my ‘boomer’ dialect, but more importantly, it reminded me of the importance of understanding your audience when you write a blog headline, present a position or even discussing a potentially mundane (yet really important) business topic. So instead of talking about ‘blowing up on Spotify’, I want to share a few thoughts on ‘alignment’ and ‘constructs’.
The first is alignment. To understand what this means, think about driving your car. If it’s out of alignment and you take your hand off the steering wheel, the car will drift; you have to work hard to keep it centered in your lane. The same goes for a business organization. If it’s out of alignment, it will drift in a direction you didn’t intend. And just as misalignment causes wear and tear on car parts, it can cause wear and stress in parts of your organization.
The next concept is constructs, which are processes, procedures, structures and policies. Examples include a policy on when to turn in timesheets, a software-testing protocol, and a reporting structure. When constructs support the broader goals of the organization, they keep an organization in alignment.
Over time, however, constructs can sometimes take on a life of their own and actually cause misalignment. One example is a business that enacts so many well-intentioned policies that it loses its entrepreneurial edge and drifts from the direction it wants to go.
Constructs can also help or hinder an organization’s information flow. Information should flow freely up and down and around the organization, not just in one direction. Here’s a quick exercise. Write down the first five constructs you can think of for your company. Then give each construct a thumbs up or down according to how well they support your company vision and mission. Do the constructs still support alignment or have they become a drag.
There is no way you’ll be ‘blowing up’ anything if you are out of alignment!