How to use conversations to solve your misalignment problem

written by  Ryan Seamons

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Misalignment creates friction. This happens when you don’t see eye-to-eye with a collaborator. This could be with your boss, a colleague, your spouse, or your child.

In cars, misalignment causes tires to wear unevenly. If your tires aren’t pointed in the exact same direction, one tire will wear more quickly than the other and need to be replaced. An alignment before too much friction can save hundreds of dollars on a car repair.

Getting aligned in your work is trickier than a simple tire alignment. People aren’t objects. Team alignment requires the synchronization of multiple entities already in motion. Also, assuming only one person needs to change isn’t going to work most of the time, yet that’s often the default thinking (ex. “If they would just …”).

Metronomes synchronization provides a clear analogy for how to approach alignment in our relationships. Watch how these metronomes go from completely off from each other to perfectly in sync:

The key is a shared, moving platform. A shared, moving platform allows for the transfer of energy between the metronomes. This enables small amounts of influence back and forth between the players.

If the platform ever stops moving (or becomes stagnate), then misalignment resurfaces.

I invite you to think about the application of this principle to your relationships and work.

What’s your shared platform for your relationships?

I see Conversations as a powerful shared, moving platform.

Conversations happen either live or through documents.

Live conversations work when you actively listen and then thoughtfully respond without dominating (as my friend Steve Arntz says, it’s like playing ping pong). It’s incredible how aligning conversation can be.

Living documents, especially strategic roadmaps, are helpful for this at work. Many living documents can provide a good shared platform.

In my work with teams through Sprintwell, I often find myself helping leaders understand how to collaboratively create and communicate using living documents. The ebb and flow of alignment can be tricky for leadership who are used to command and control or for companies who anchor too much on consensus-driven decision making.

How do you get aligned with those important in your life and work?

What have you been learning about? I ask this of my kids every dinner and love to hear from other avid learners. Today I’d especially love to hear stories about how you’ve seen the advantage of getting aligned with those you care about.

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About the Author

Ryan Seamons
writes about more human approaches to modern management.

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