Monday, February 1, 2010

Need An Alignment?

When I think about the term alignment, it usually conjures images of letting go of the steering wheel while driving along an open road. If I'm aligned properly, my car will stay straight. If not, it will veer to one side or the other in a manner that without correction, would yield catastrophic results.

Last week, I attended a terrific presentation by Edgar Papke hosted by Vistage International on the topic of alignment. Essentially he offers a model that stresses the alignment of purpose, leadership and culture in order to win in today's hyper-competitive climate. It's not only great advice in terms of leadership and business strategy, but also essential with regard to communication.

While there are many companies which are criticized for saying one thing and doing another, such disconnects are often either intentional or victim of what I would regard as priority hierarchy. In such a case for example, a multi-national PR agency may exclaim the virtues of collaboration, selling clients true global capability because of its seamless cross office collaboration. Unfortunately, when times get tough, individual offices can become stingy with their revenues. General managers don't want to give up revenue to another office and, as a result, seamless collaboration takes a back seat. It doesn't mean the agency isn't committed to working together, it's just that collaboration falls down the priority list during lean times.

More problematic however is misalignment that's more subtle. It isn't that your car has a mechanical problem, it's that you as the driver get distracted reading a billboard or changing a radio station, only to discover how quickly your path has changed. It may be unintentional, but just as dangerous.

As a communication professional in your organization, how do you make sure everyone's keeping their eyes on the road? We'd love to hear your thoughts?


  1. Jim Bowman – The PR Doc®February 1, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Leo - Alignment is critical in down times, but just as important in good times. I’ve seen just the situation you describe with multi-location agencies, in which managers are loathe to give up billable hours to another office.

    Likewise, I’ve seen branches in one nation take on clients that were in direct competition with existing clients already served by the firm in another location. Sometimes such work can be firewalled effectively, but other times it constitutes a clear conflict. Greed can be as powerful a motivator as survival.

    There is a whole separate discussion to be had regarding alignment throughout the enterprise and how to achieve it. PR must be aligned with business goals and objectives up and down the organization and across business unit lines.

    Jim Bowman – The PR Doc®

  2. Jim, I appreciate your thoughtful comment and could not agree more regarding the need for additional discussions on the topic. I look forward to starting one of them in my next post!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin