The ‘Art’ Of Making Alignment

John Caswell
Feb 8 · 3 min read
USING STRUCTURED VISUAL THINKING™ TO TRANSLATE HUNDREDS OF OPINIONS INTO ONE FRAMEWORK

It’s A Struggle To Get People To Agree

For reasons of physiology, we each have our own perspectives on everything. That means different definitions and different meanings for everything. That signals, waste, risk, cost and frustration. That’s never good.

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’” — Dave Barry

Getting agreement on things comes with a heavy tax. In business, it’s as hard as it is vital to get the agreement. Agreement gets called alignment which is ‘speak’ for close enough. I’m OK with that. It’s better than what currently exists in many businesses — all-out avoidance of alignment.

This disagreement exists because a defensive position is taken by each different function or department. A lack of alignment is already built in. This presents unique and indefinable challenges and varied lenses on the same set of business ambitions and goals.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN TRADITIONAL ‘MEETINGS’ IS PEOPLE NODDING WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT THEY ARE NODDING TO

Live Deconstruction

The only way I’ve found of getting around this is to get those who are responsible to agree to try and align on what should be done. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, let’s just develop a shared appreciation of what it will take to get the job done.

We deconstruct then reconstruct the challenge with these people. By breaking the challenge into its component parts we appreciate the subtleties and meaning and then we put it back together as we agree we need it to be.

It’s vital to do this ‘live’ and with a responsible team. We honour them in real time. We interpret the conversations we have within a structured and highly visual framework that’s unique to the challenge each time.

I visually translate what they say into what I think they meant. I interpret what everyone says to a series of specific questions. It has remarkable effects:

  • We Build A Team Culture — They start to soften long-held defence of a position in favour of considered collegiate agreement.
  • Everyone Becomes More Creative — They see new ways to think about the overall challenge and evolve better ideas and strategies.
  • Everyone Pays Attention — They pay attention to the content and context. Most likely stuff that they have failed to appreciate in the hundreds of documents that have been passed around and never read.
  • We Develop An Enlightened Leadership — They overcome the divisions that appeared to exist because they can ‘see’ that they actually don’t.

As a bonus, the team also has an immediate visual output. It’s something real and they can take it away. It’s a tool that’s revealed what they had long intended — but couldn’t articulate. And even if they hadn’t intended it they do now — they own it because they helped make it.

They Are Aligned.

Just Thinking

Observations Good, Bad & Disruptive

John Caswell

Written by

May The Bridges I Burn Light My Way. I’m The Head Of Crayons At Group Partners.

Just Thinking

Observations Good, Bad & Disruptive