When I talk about alignment today, I think fluidity and movement. I think non-linear. I think creativity. I think agile. And, paradoxically, I think deep infrastructure. I think strong lines. I think core. The stained glass images represent this paradox for me. The images are a creative representation of my thinking on how alignment lives and moves in the 21st century, and while alignment remains pivotal to organization success, we must be willing to break away from some of the linear thinking of the past. Towers Watson said it well when they stated in a 2012 report, "Companies are running 21st century businesses with 20th century practices and programs."
Performance & Rewards is an area in which old thinking abounds. Fixed salary grades, stagnant job descriptions, and annual performance reviews built on static objectives are just a few examples of antiquated programs developed in a time where hierarchy was revered and organization was analogized to a machine. I understand why they still exist; in past lives I've helped create and maintain plans that include these very elements! There are legalities and financial constraints that we simply can't ignore. However, the go-to solution is new wine in old wineskin. Folks, the wineskin is seriously leaking.
There are ways we can begin to incorporate new thinking - a new way of aligning people, performance & rewards to the business strategy - into the way we do business and empower our talent. I have mentioned changing the dialog in previous posts, and this is a great opportunity to practice. One place to start is 'both/and' thinking. For example, we need to evaluate performance and maintain a feedback loop AND we have changing objectives throughout the year. We have a finite pool of rewards dollars AND our headcount continues to increase.
Rather than battling over which to address - which is often a welcome yet dysfunctional distraction from the issues at hand - we own that both are the reality and we start the conversation there. Get people in a room together who don’t normally get in a room together. Highlight the tensions and discuss them with openness and curiosity. In this way, you begin to strengthen your organization's core and build capacity for new ways of thinking and communicating. In essence, you create your own story of the stained glass.