Pretty much everyone accepts the notion that for an organization to perform well, the people in the organization should be aligned with the goals to be achieved.

Whether the organization is a large corporation, a small work group or two partners– alignment is critical. But what exactly is alignment, and how do we achieve it?

Most systems rely on clearly defined goals as the means of achieving alignment. The assumption is that if everyone understands the tasks to be accomplished and the goals to be achieved then they will automatically align the efforts towards the achievement of the goals. Sound reasonable–except it rarely works.

True alignment is a deep level of internal commitment to a goal or a cause. It brings about a level of energy that is willing to overcome all obstacles. It’s as if something inside of a fully engaged person says, “We cannot fail, we must see this goal achieved.”

This is the energy we seek when we speak of getting a team aligned. It is creating a team where everyone is fully committed to the achievement of the goal. Anyone can tell when this state is achieved because of a level of energy that flows throw a aligned team. This is the energy that lies within the Context Field as defined in the Living Organization® model.

While establishing clear goals and metrics are an important component of gaining alignment it doesn’t go far enough. Clearly the team needs to know what has to be done and needs the metrics to provide it with the necessary feedback that allows it to know if it is track to achieving the stated objectives.

What we do and how we do it is the energy of the Activity Field in The Living Organization® model. Knowing what to do and how to do it does not engage one’s passionate commitment to the goal. You might get compliance to the goal but you do not get alignment.

This is the biggest failing I see when it comes to gaining alignment. All current management practices to achieve alignment is based on the Activity Field of clearly communicating the goals and establishing the metrics that define success. And the results show that even with formal systems such as the balanced scorecard or Hoshin planning we get compliance not alignment.

True alignment requires heartfelt connection between the individual’s sense of meaning and purpose with the Soulful Purpose of the organization. For many organization’s this is almost impossible because they have set a context that their relationship with employees as merely pay for hire. With this a a cultural context such organizations could never achieve true alignment.

But for those organizations that understand the importance of The Context field of meaning and purpose and can articulate the organization’s Soulful Purpose, they can achieve true alignment with the whole organization.

Do you want alignment or compliance in your organization? If it is the former then seek to understand the power of the Context field as explained in The Living Organization®.