I was driving back from visiting my parents late one night (pre-pandemic, when visiting my parents was safe). I realized I had to work to keep the car in the lane, as it was drifting slightly to the right if I didn’t correct it. The next day, I took the car into the mechanic, who told me the wheels were out of alignment and the tires were beginning to show signs of uneven wear.

Tires aren’t the only things that can lose alignment over time. Ever been part of a team that is working at cross purposes or cannot get on the same page about how to get their work done? Misalignment can be frustrating and waste significant energy. Over time, people may get worn out, just like my tires.

Alignment is three dimensional, a three-legged stool – goals, current reality and path forward. We have to be aligned on all three and keep that common understanding over time.

And alignment is more difficult to get and keep when some or all of the team work remotely, and casual check-ins can’t happen. What is a great team to do? Align on all three aspects of alignment:

Goals – Where are we headed? When this work is finished, what will we have achieved?
Current reality –  What is the compelling reason for doing this? What are the consequences of acting? What happens if we do nothing?
Path forward – What is the best path to reach our goals? How can we get the biggest impact from our efforts? Who will do what by when?

Getting on the same page on these three dimensions may not guarantee success. It will make the road less treacherous and frustrating.

For more on team alignment and success, check out our new book, “What Great Teams Do Great: How Ordinary People Accomplish the Extraordinary.”

Have experience with alignment and a tip on how to get and keep it? Comment below or message us.

Feel free to use this handy visual to remind you to get and keep 3D Alignment!


Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash