Shifting Organizational Alignment from Behavior to Values

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Contribution to Books

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One of the greatest challenges for a modern organization is that of keeping all its members moving in the same direction and continuing to do their jobs in accordance with the organization's goals, missions, and values as the business grows. Yet as growth occurs, the hierarchical distance often increases between those setting the goals and those producing the bulk of the organization's products and services. The greater the distance between those two organizational functions, the greater the opportunity for communication to become garbled, distorted, or simply lost. Think of the childhood game "Telephone," in which a message is passed down a chain of people, and where the message starting out at one end of the chain may be very different from the message heard by the last person at the end of the chain. The same is true of organizations that have several layers of management separating strategic decision makers from those directly involved with producing goods and services. When this distortion or loss of communication exists in organizations, it is nearly always coupled with problems in maintaining alignment between the organization's culture, strategy, values, and behavior. The head of the organization can no longer reliably control the organization's hands and feet.