Do You Want Alignment or Compliance?

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?


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

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

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

Norman Wolfe
Quantum Leaders, Inc.
Executing Strategy


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About the author

Throughout his professional career as a Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Director, and Advisor to CEOs, Norman Wolfe has successfully guided corporations through major transitions leading to substantial growth, market expansion and enhanced financial performance. Currently, he is the Chairman and CEO of Quantum Leaders, a leading edge consulting company guiding boards and CEOs to improve strategy execution


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