Alignment. Not a hugely exciting word I grant you. But in the right hands? Wow is it powerful.
In a world of abundant choice and excessive everything, where everyone can seemingly do everything 24/7, it’s hard to be clear on who does what and for what reason?
So where does alignment fit? Where can it play a role? By definition it’s linear, straight or cohesive or, my favourite; the proper coordination of components. Proper coordination of components. What on earth does this have to do with anything? Lets get ‘straight’ to it. True alignment offers the best chance that I’m going to believe you.
By arranging what and who you are in a logical, properly coordinated form you are allowing me to understand you. From that crucial stake in the ground I can then decide if I like you/ want to follow you / know you / work for you / buy from you and most crucially, trust you. Simple? You’d think so wouldn’t you? But so many still get it wrong.
A misalignment example
Ryanair demonstrated strong and clear, if extreme, alignment with their; ‘fly with us for less, but we’ll cut every corner to achieve that’ positioning. Initially aligned with the cost consciousness of their audience, the experience then became misaligned with modern day expectations and standards. So Ryanair found themselves realigning their proposition with customer demands – the same cheap flights, but now, not at all costs.
Why alignment works
Today, relationships are the new currency. Earning and retaining people’s trust is everything. ROR not ROI.
If you can truly align your core organisational purpose with every touchpoint, then you’re demonstrating a dependable and consistent service, culture and set of values. Your organisation has an aligned core and can gain stakeholder trust as they know what the organisation stands for – the bedrock of all great relationships.
Take Virgin and Zappos; two expertly aligned companies. The proof of their success? A simple explanation of what they aspire to do, that’s truly lived throughout their organisations.
To paraphrase both; Virgin want to improve society through their many businesses and challenge convention but have fun along the way. Zappos want to be the best online shoe retailer, and make everyone they associate with as happy as they can be. Simple. Single-minded. Aligned.
Both businesses allow me to understand what they do, why they do it and how they will go about it. If you’ve interacted with either organisation you will probably recognise their purpose. Having worked for one and dealt with the other, I know they are incredibly well-aligned. And so I fundamentally trust them. How many brands give you that same trust and assurance?
The Vital Components
To be a credible, influential brand you have to demonstrate ‘proper coordination of your components’. Without it? I’m unlikely to trust you to help me cross the road, let alone take me anywhere more ambitious. The banking sector serves as a great example of a sector that became misaligned with the morals of society and now, with technological advance, fights for its very existence.
I have worked with many great cultures across many organisations, but all too often they are misaligned by the culture of the senior management. So factions exist within the organisation, and their customer feels it. I call these “internal fiefdoms” – a series of fiefdoms that don’t work together, that often do the opposite to one another in order to maintain a power base.
Alignment programmes have to work hard to break these down and allow the organisation to channel its impact in one direction. It takes vision, coaching and truly open communication, but the end result is an organisation that is significantly more powerful when properly aligned.
For more information, or if you want to learn more about JPC’s alignment audit, please email email@example.com