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Get out of your own way

Get out of your own way

At school I was one of the tallest boys in the year – which made me something of a target for any kid who wanted to show off. I had no interest in fighting, so when these situations arose I would walk round the corner and stand in front of the staffroom window - but on the odd occasion I would find myself with no way out. The thing was, because I really didn’t want to fight half of me would end up throwing a punch – and the other half of me would be pulling it back at the same time. Not exactly the way to make an impact, and it’s safe to say none of these fights were particularly impressive!

And we can be like that at work – whether it’s an individual, team or organisational level we could save SO much time and energy simply by getting out of our own way.

I often get asked the question – “What is internal alignment? It sounds like a weird medical procedure?!”   No surgery is necessary.   Internal alignment is capturing the power of ‘getting out of your own way’.

Just think about it - and be honest!  Over the years:

  • how many of your frustrations and constraints have been in your head?
  • how often have you found team members working against each other rather than with each other?
  • how many times have you seen something important ‘dropped’ as it passes from one department to the next?

And the impact is significant. If we compared the average organisation to a football team:

  • Each player would pass the ball to only 2 other teammates
  • Only 4 players would know which goal is theirs
  • Only 2 would care
  • Only 2 would play in their best position and know exactly what they are supposed to do
  • And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opposition

A ‘lucky’ team may have the same 2 players passing to each other, shooting for the right goal, playing their best positions and knowing exactly what they need to do. But you and I both know that even 2 out of 11 isn’t good enough.

Enter an organisation with internal alignment:

  • Dysfunctional relationships across the organisation have become partnerships built on mutual respect and understanding
  • Activity builds on strengths of the organisation and its component parts rather than focusing solely on what’s wrong with it
  • Everyone knows what the final goal is and most importantly are bought into WHY it matters

So with internal alignment your football team would be a very different experience. Each player would:

  • pass the ball to any of their teammates
  • know AND care which goal is theirs
  • play in their best position and know exactly what they are supposed to do
  • work with their team members and direct all their energy against the opposition

So if you want to have a real impact, if you want to make the most of the resources you have in a challenging environment then it’s time to start creating internal alignment.

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