How to Stop Worrying and Find Alignment
Some thoughts on finding alignment for meaningful collaboration.
PREFACE: DEFINING GOALS, UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, BARRIERS, AND ASSUMPTIONS
The following text is from Schelling Point’s research on Alignment Optimization for inter-organizational collaboration.
“In most organizations, building a business case focuses first on defining Goals and determining how to achieve those goals—the tangible, physical actions on the line from Assumptions to Goals.
This is the fun, advancing, innovative conversation—where no one can be wrong. Unfortunately, differing perspectives about Assumptions and hidden problems in Barriers and Unintended Consequences silently restrain progress.
It’s easy to have an instinctive focus on taking action to produce our desired outcomes (Goals), and fail to adequately consider the negative Unintended Consequences. Later, these Unintended Consequences are often explained away as “not my fault.” Too much optimism and not enough realism in the design phase often stifles the ability to acknowledge issues and Barriers, thereby reducing commitment to the project and hurting the collective team’s ability to execute.
The drive to be action-oriented - to get to Goals - and impatience to “waste time” discussing the current state beyond a few headlines, means that Assumptions also receives short-shrift. Yet the underlying Assumptions are the first principles for any strategy, plan, or decision.
Simply put, when the initial planning meetings are over, the leaders spend too much time advocating the value of the Goals and don’t balance this with sufficient inquiry into others’ views of Assumptions, Unintended Consequences, and Barriers. As a result, when leaders see symptoms of misalignment, they treat it by trying to “compress the Goal cloud” (scope compression); when, in fact, the root to misalignment is often at the beginning - when differing views of Assumptions are not sufficiently aired.”
So let’s work through it.
In two years, what would you need to point to in order to say that this initiative has been successful?
|What are the outcomes?||What are the corresponding measures?|
What are the outcomes?What are the corresponding measures?
What are your thoughts about the situation that are driving you to take this action?
Barriers What could prevent you from achieving the intended outcomes described above? Possible barrier What action would this barrier require? What is a possible solution to the barrier? Unintended Consequences What could be some of the possible side-effects of your actions? Possible side-effect What action would this side-effect require? What is a possible solution to this side effect?