Alignment is one of those intuitive things that is easy to write about but much harder to practice. Of course HR, Finance, Communications, Operations, and Sales should be aligned towards the same goals/directions. No one is going to argue they should not be. But many organizations are full of silo-ed departments that are not aligned, and that creates numerous difficulties for them as these departments pull the organization in varied directions simultaneously. George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky recently published a book specifically on the subject of realignment. In Rapid Realignment: How to Quickly Integrate People, Processes, and Strategy for Unbeatable Performance, Labovitz and Rosansky build on their previous best-selling work and provide many practical ways for leaders to realign their organizations.
The book is broad in scope, and touches on numerous organizational issues such as social media, continuous quality improvement, culture, employee engagement, strategic planning and many more. Each of the aforementioned topics could be a book in themselves, and that broad scope dilutes its usefulness a bit. The authors do cite a number of case study stories, and I loved those. These short anecdotal stories bolster their thoughts and research by providing pragmatic examples of continuous alignment. I just wish they would have expanded those more as we could have learned much from the alignment efforts of the companies they researched.
I especially enjoyed the social media chapter and their thoughts on how companies can bolster their vertical and horizontal alignment by harnessing the power of social media. It was a thought-provoking, engaging, and well-written chapter on the subject. They did not just rehash what we already know about social media and provided some depth to the ongoing conversation of what organizations should actually do with these advancing social technologies. A leader can’t simply decree “Thou shalt align” to his organization and expect it to magically align. Rather, leaders must engage in continuous conversations throughout the organization. Social media has given leaders powerful tools to do that more effectively, but t has also made organizational communication more slippery to understand. The examples they cite from WalMart and PWC really help readers understand how some companies are using social media technology to align their organizations.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, and it is an extremely useful tool for a leader to align his or her strategies. Advanced leaders may read this and then look for more detailed or deeper information on specific topics to further bolster those strategies. That is fine, since we have to start from somewhere. Labovitz and Rosansky provide that starting point and definitely provide a useful contribution to the literature on alignment.
Note: I have no affiliation with the authors and purchased this book myself.
Labovitz, G. & Rosansky, V. (2012). Rapid Realignment: How to Quickly Integrate People, Processes, and Strategy for Unbeatable Performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.