Anything that requires any amount of precision, skill, or coordination requires alignment. Some easy examples:
Parking your car: you must align the car with the space provided
Driving a nail: the swing of the hammer must align with the nail head
Taking a trip: the journey must align with the destination (unless your destination is “where ever the car runs out of gas”)
If we do not do the work to ensure alignment before action is taken, we are very likely to cause damage that will require a response. And time. Probably money. Likely pride. If possible, is there any great reason not to ensure alignment first and then take action?
How does this translate to our professional lives? In situations where we are personally not aligned with the work expectations, it can get uncomfortable at best. When you are who you are and are able to utilize your skills and strengths, things go pretty well. As your ability to work using your strengths fades, so does your engagement, satisfaction, production, and happiness. The following illustration makes no small point about this issue.
If your organization is out of alignment, similar issues will exist. Imagine the road trip, but instead of you and friends or family in one car, you’ve got a bunch of folks who might know each other, might mostly get along, and they’re all driving their own car. There’s only a destination, but no map, no GPS, no written directions, and no clear leader. What are the odds that this road trip is going to conclude with all drivers at the destination at the same time?
If the RTG (road trip gang) had their goals, plans, communication, and actions aligned with their desired outcomes, they would have a much higher chance of reaching the destination at the same time. To be fair, ensuring alignment exists AND it is maintained requires work. And time. And, frankly, money. In contrast, how much work, time, and money does it cost when the goal is NOT efficiently met?
It is easy for us to say something preventative is too expensive because we see the price tag. The cost of fixes and corrections are almost always more expensive and, in many cases, it is nearly impossible to fully recover due to lost opportunity cost (what you’re doing instead of meaningfully making progress toward the goal).
Good and poor alignment can be seen everywhere. A quietly closing door versus a door that sticks. A peanut-butter-loaded knife that meets the bread versus the streak of PB on the countertop. Pulling a chain up a hill versus pushing a chain up a hill.
Give yourself a few moments.
Where does alignment show up in your life, personally or professionally? Where things are misaligned, what actions can you take to improve alignment? When are you going to start making the changes? What is the date? Write it down and do the work. Because you can improve alignment and improve your satisfaction.