Get in Line – or why you don’t need strategy

Extreme stakeholder alignment is the 4th pillar principle of the Semco Style roadmap, and naturally builds on what has already been accomplished in the first three stages. At this point, the organization is ready to align its interests with internal and external stakeholders: employees, partners, counsellors, investors, society, customers, suppliers and government representatives. Alignment creates a setting where these stakeholders have the opportunity to actively participate in the decisions of the organization that might affect them. This is the stage where finding common ground and process optimization merge into a powerful operating style.

Why does alignment matter?

Essentially, alignment is consistency in action. Given that consistency is a prerequisite for trust, you could argue that alignment further augments and extends trust. Trust ignites changeability, and thus develops self-interest and autonomy. Alignment provides discipline that is not based on command-and-control, but instead on self-governance, which is the exact opposite of a conflict of interest: a confluence of interest.

What’s the use of alignment?

Alignment is your value creation engine! Alignment of the interdependence between the self-interests of all stakeholders with your methods of adding value to the ecosystem you belong to, optimized via your core processes, results in a value creation engine for your organization.

Alignment via subtractive knowledge (the understanding of what is incorrect and what to avoid) makes your organization more rigorous and robust, which is why disconfirmation by tinkering (aka productive redundancy) makes a lot of sense. That means: continuously working at the way things are done, checking, testing, working on what works, and finding out what doesn’t.

Alignment forces you to focus and get your priorities straight, or as Steve Jobs used to say: “Focus is not saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on; it means saying no to the hundred other good ideas. You have to pick carefully.”

“I’d rather apologize than ask for your permission.”

Says Harvey Specter to the managing partner of his firm, in the successful lawyer-saga Suits. Harvey isn’t really interested in alignment, at all. But he is right that it shouldn’t be about asking permission. Alignment can feel like you are asking for exactly that; that you are looking for consensus or conversely pressuring people into complying with your opinion.

Alignment does not equal compliance. Compliance is a control-style exercise. The opposite of alignment is not flexibility, it’s misalignment. Alignment is all about optimization. More on-point:

  • It’s about finding the right balance between discipline and flexibility to suit the needs of all stakeholders.
  • It’s continuously improving overall productivity – controlling process(es), not people.

So if that is alignment, what is extreme alignment?

Extreme alignment can be identified by 5 distinctive characteristics:

  • Detailed, negotiated performance markers that are consistently self-set and achieved. This builds confidence and helps exert self-management.
  • Self-imposed constraints (in time and volume). These stimulate keeping focus even when tempted by opportunities.
  • Specific for the organization, and its ecosystem.
  • Largely within the organization’s scope of influence to achieve.
  • A proper timeframe as shared perspective – long enough to manage, yet short enough to have teeth.

When extremely aligned, you customize the organization to meet the needs of all its stakeholders. Organizing this way, self-interest is always optimally aligned with the organization and its purpose, and all stakeholders share the passionate drive for the same cause bigger than themselves.

If all of the above are in place, you don’t need a generic high level, core value strategy, because there is no need for visionary ability to predict the future. What you do need, is the ability to observe what worked, figure out why it worked, and then build upon proven foundations. Disciplined and experiential.

There is so much more to say and discuss, best practice and tools to help to take that EXSTRA step forward. During our training and programs you can learn all there is to learn about this, and the other four principles of Semco Style.

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