Alignment — How much I hate this word as it now haunts me during my daily work life on an hourly basis.
What does it mean?
Well, generally it means that everyone understand and follows the same goal to achieve the same purpose. A good thing, mind you.
In my job this word has become my personal objective and my performance measure. My performance measurement. If people, teams, or functions are not aligned, I cannot develop and roll out processes. Instant launch failure.
I am in process development. I am leading a central group to develop Finance processes in a pretty large organization. And this job is fun. I love it. I have challenges, am always fairly busy, get visibility and recognition. And the best of it: I get to initiate change and make a difference in one significant global company. A great job.
If it was not about those people I would be trying to align.
“I was not involved in the initial decision.”
“I have not been involved in the roll out.”
“I have not been trained.”
“This will never work. I tried it before.”
“Why do we need to change again?”
Keeping a large organization moving in the same direction is a busy job. It is a 24h job considering that all people are located all over the world. I have regular meetings with Australia, China, Brazil, and Germany.
There is no secret to making process development work. It is simply very hard work. You need to seek feedback, you need to align, you need to ensure that everyone you work with can and will utilize the processes you develop. There is nothing more frustrating than the best process work failing at point of deployment. And it happens so often.
Essentially, a good process developer has to forget about her ego and just let things roll. You have to be aware that your daily job is 80% alignment work and 20% actually developing something new. It means a lot of repetition and a lot of questions to be answered. Sometimes the same questions over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over… you get the point.
Process development is not about developing your own intelligence and it is not about showing your smartness. It is about developing something that people want to use. And it is independent from whether they asked for the change or if you just introduced something different. People need to use the tools you develop and they will only do so voluntarily if it is beneficial to them. Sometimes you can achieve temporary top down alignment: You do this or your performance review is not favorable. But if this is your only means of alignment, you eventually will end up with a bunch of horribly demotivated employees and business partners.
Process development is about being a great business partner and a good service organization. It is about aligning on strategy and driving the organization forward. I love this job.
If it was not for the people I am trying to align my job would be meaningless. Change is hard. Change is difficult. And not always is the final solution my choice. I am sometimes sufficiently happy if the final solution is at least based on my recommendation.
And the only thing that sometimes keeps me working through the day is the fact that I have the opportunity to really make a difference and that at the end of the day there is a glass of wine waiting for me. Just for me. And I need to align with noone to drink it or not. 😉