I feel fortunate. Connexus has the privilege of being a North Point strategic partner church since we launched in 2007. We share the same mission, vision and strategy as North Point does.
One of the key benefits of a simple church model (which North Point and its partners practice) is alignment.
Alignment happens when you have a team of people – from the top leadership right through to the newest volunteer – pulling in the same direction not only around the same goals, but using the same strategy.
Seems simple, but it isn’t.
Everybody I talk to is in favour of aligning their organization (why have hundreds of people working at crossed purposes?), but few people seem to be able to pull it off.
Rarely have I seen an organization more intentional about alignment than North Point.
Even as a partner church, few leaders ever call us asking us about alignment. But as they are leaving after some time with us, they inevitably remark on the level of ownership the staff and volunteers have. I agree. Team and organizational alignment is a powerful thing when it happens.
That’s the power of alignment. To get very different people rallied around a common cause is a wonderful thing.
Alignment, is hard work. But it’s worth your time.
Here are five benefits to working in an aligned organization:
1. Alignment creates a badly needed dividing line. Being everything to everyone means being nothing to no one. Few organizations struggle with this more than the church. Alignment forces you to be about a few defined things rather than about everything (aka nothing). Once you choose the things you are going to do and align around it, the people who want you to be about everything will sometimes leave, but that’s okay. Being aligned almost always means you will accomplish more.
2. Alignment forces out personal agendas. I learned this early on from Andy Stanley. When the organization’s agenda becomes clear and the main priority for everyone, it forces out competing personal agendas. Everything from politics to selfish personal goals get exposed because people’s commitment is to a cause greater than themselves. I have a hard time seeing how that’s a bad thing.
3. Alignment does not mean full agreement; instead it produces focus. Critics of alignment say that alignment means you snuff out independent thought and, in its extreme form, create a culture of yes people. I disagree. Most high capacity leaders actually want to work in an environment that is going to produce results. Alignment around key objectives does that.
4. Alignment removes all excuses. We’ve had several staff join us our team who used to be part of other, less aligned organizations. Within a year, they had the same experience I did once we got our teams fully aligned: all your excuses for a lack of progress disappear. You can’t blame anyone else because everyone actually supports you and your agenda. That’s because there is only one agenda. It allows you to realize your potential, but the excuses you used to use for lack of results are gone.
5. Alignment allows you to harness more creativity, not less. Rather counterintuitively, having a common mission and strategy means that your team can harness greater – not lesser – creativity. Because you agree on direction and priorities, you spend significant time getting creative about implementing your vision. You no longer waste hours debating what to do. Instead, you can spend hours getting better at what you’ve agreed you’ll do.
If you are facing internal or external resistance to alignment, I want to encourage you to move past that resistance. You’ll be so glad you did.
That’s what I’m learning and enjoying about being part of an aligned organization. What are you discovering?