Some thoughts on why the push to “align on the problem” is often counterproductive, and why a better approach is to focus on breaking the narrative stalemate with a better story. Companies are filled with (often competing) narratives about what is broken, why, and what to do about it.
this really hits home at the moment - I'd love to read more about what weaving a positive narrative might look like. I've only ever really been in places where the go-to method to align people was to create a problem or existential threat
Would only challenge the notion that 'alignment is often counterproductive'. To the contrary - alignment is a process: a) discovering the extent of common ground and difference, b) building shared understanding - not necessarily agreement - about the perception of the other/s in terms of what and why, c) finding ways forward people can get behind. Ways forward can be melding existing perspectives to find new possibilities, or defining a new shared reality, among other options.
Any good resources, examples or case studies in this? I have a good example of a situation where this is a useful analysis, but I wouldn't know where to start to build a unifying narrative!
Similar to what Sam and Stian have shared above - I can see how this problem manifests but I am unable to visualise how to do the following (quoting your sentences) :
Your job, in effect, is to weave a story where people can still play the hero and protagonist of their narrative while at the same time getting people to row in the same direction, united by some common cause. Great leaders foster conditions where the "actors" can shape their collective narrative instead of trying to own and micromanage it.
Would be awesome if you can write up a follow up article with examples for us to learn about how to apply this 🙏
Thank you Tom, I’ve had a look but struggling to see a connection from this to a specific definition of alignment.
My understanding in summary, is that alignment is not necessarily agreement. And I think we are both saying that the process of alignment presents opportunities on multiple levels… are we aligned?:)
I’ve seen this kind of pattern many many times.
Let’s nerd out soon about Estuarine Framework, which is a method to deterritorialise narrative conflicts!
Such a thoughtful approach to tech org chaos - thanks John!
This is an excellently written and insightful post, John. It greatly resonated with my own thoughts and similar challenges.
Also, "Narrative Stalemate" is a truly fascinating term that I definitely intend to incorporate into my own discussions.