In school, the first thing we are taught as kids is to stand in straight lines. They ask us to make sure that the benches are in an orderly row. In the PT/Games period, we are drilled to follow a particular order and formation. When the writing lessons start, we are always asked to draw the top and left margin, and start writing the text from the left margin. So, one of the most elementary but quintessential learning is alignment.
On the road, there are lanes. And, the vehicles follow the lanes. There are specific paths or routes, and the vehicles follow only these routes, one behind the other. This is nothing but alignment. Accidents happen on the road when you overtake another vehicle on the wrong side, or drive up the wrong way. Why? Because you are breaking and messing up the alignment. They say ‘speed thrills but kills’. Why is speed considered dangerous? Because it is highly difficult to keep alignment in check as the speed increases.
Even traditionally, Indian philosophy and other philosophies of the world recognize the need and importance of alignment and harmony of the mind, identity and thought. This planet called Earth exists and supports life only because there is harmony between the biotic and the abiotic. The coexistence of the lithosphere, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere in perfect alignment and harmony forms the biosphere which enables life. Nothing can be achieved without alignment.
From the above examples, we can easily see that alignment is something that is necessary from simple jobs such as writing, to existential questions like the life on this planet. Hence, it is now understandable that for the success of an organization, alignment is essential. Alignment is necessary both in goal formation and execution.
In “Totally Aligned Organisation: Aligning The Human Spirit To Organisational Endeavour”, Raghu Ananthanarayanan talks about the Totally Aligned Organisation Systems (TOA Systems), and how the help to identify and eliminate human wastes. This, in turn, makes sure that the full potential of the people who work in that organisation, is utilized in a productive manner that contributes to the growth of both the employees and the organization. The growth will be reflected as more innovative thoughts and ideas, better creativity, more empowerment to make decisions and provide directions based on the requirement of the task at hand.
Alignment will make the flow of ideas and their execution more efficient. As the book puts it:
“Authority will be based on the task requirement, not the job title, and information will flow from a ‘need to perform’ rather than positional authority.”
This would eventually increase transparency in the organization. The more open the organization, the better its performance.
Also, the alignment of the organization will help newer policies, or management/executive changes that are brought about, fit in better with the existing structure of the organization. It makes it easier to make meaningful and revolutionary changes when there is a clearer picture of the organization’s ongoing activities, which can be achieved through alignment.
Thus, it is important to make sure that the syncing of the various wings of an organization is in place. Aligning the goals of the organization with its resources, will make it fit for the rat race competition in the world today.
After all, as it’s popularly said: there is never any reason to be out of alignment.