Part III: The Elements of Aligner
In Parts I and II, we explored two of the three interdependent stages in the intentional team formation processes:
Optimizing presence via increased disclosure and true engagement
Aggregating value and managing accountability via unanimity
We now turn to the fullness of team formation: the establishment of personal and team alignment. This process is captured in the Alignment pattern and its related protocols. Part III also introduces the patterns required by Alignment: Investigate, Receptivity, AskforHelp, and WebofCommitment. Investigate and Receptivity help the team define individual goals. WebofCommitment is basically the group instance of the individual AskforHelp and focuses on the mechanics of how the team achieves its goals. Part III also describes AlignMe, an antipattern that commonly impedes the success of a team, and discusses unhealthy types of Alignment avoidance.
Alignment is the bringing together of diverse elements into a desirable orientation with one another. TeamAlignment occurs when each team member knows what he wants for himself and what he wants from the team, and what others want for themselves and from him (the terms wants and goals are used interchangeably).
Obviously, your personal goals matter more to you than do corporate goals. Personal goals explain why you are involved. If a team knows what each of its members wants, then each person can get support from his teammates to achieve it. When others know your goal and have explicitly committed to supporting you in attaining it, then your responsibilities are altered: You can be held accountable for behaving in a way that will yield what you say you want. If you persist in sabotaging your own goals, moreover, then you can be expected to change either your goals or your behavior. When the facts of what you actually want are acknowledged, then you can radically increase your results-to-effort ratio by applying AskforHelp.
Personal goals motivate people; team goals motivate teams. Team goals are derived from product visions, and product visions derive from personal goals. The fundamental motivational unit is the personal goal. The integration of personal goals with product visions, product visions with team and company goals, and all goals with their ultimate achievement, is central to establishing and maintaining the flow of motivation, accountability, and behavior that leads to excellence. The integrity of this system of achievement is supported most explicitly by two Core protocols, WebofCommitment and PersonalAlignment.
It's difficult to integrate the interests, dreams, and visions of every member of a team, and those of every team on the team of teams that constitutes a contemporary company. Apparently, it is considered too difficult, because usually the effort is simply never made. Perhaps it seems impractical or without value. People who do attempt to achieve this integration will attain their objectives more easily than those who don't. This difference arises because of the genuine accountability found in a system where people state explicitly what they want and have aligned the team's and the company's interests with their own. The greater alignment provides for greater commitment than does a system in which the relations among these critical elements is summarily dispensed from on high or, more likely, not at all.
The problem is not just the general state of ignorance about alignment; it is compounded by the lack of standard means of achieving it, knowing that it has been achieved, and monitoring the state of alignment over time. The absence of interpersonal communications standards of this type restricts access to the aggregate vitality. This failure results in inefficiency and promotes chaotic lifestyles. The tolerance of mediocrity becomes the default practice for everyday life.
Even though Alignment is a single Core pattern, it has broad implications in the context of a Core team. It has extensive associations with a number of subsidiary patterns and protocols, and it touches on every aspect of SharedVision and product delivery.