OK. Your team is aligned, pretty much. You’ve invested time in developing a common understanding around why, what, who, how, where and when, and clarity is in the air. But how can you keep your team aligned when the workplace context is constantly evolving?
This question was recently posed to me by Kevin Crenshaw @KCren at Neverboss and it got my brain whirring, He said:
Spot on principles from Mirror Mirror. But how can you keep your team aligned in less than 5 minutes a week?
Nice challenge. The Mirror Mirror team alignment process focuses on getting teams aligned in the first place. And now, applying the same principles, here’s a Staying Aligned process.
Firstly, with a 5-minute conversation constraint there’s got to be some discipline to run this process, and your team needs to be clear that alignment, in this case means ‘what is on our team radar and how it could affect our work’.
Keeping aligned means asking “What’s on our team radar?”
It doesn’t take long to go around the room so that people can say, in one sentence, if they are picking up a new radar ‘blip’ and what they think the blip might mean. It doesn’t matter if what they bring up is qualified or not because this is not about proven facts, it’s about what people perceive: what’s on their radar.
Your team could pick up some news, a hunch, piece of gossip or an insight into a trend. Once people share what is on their radar that could be significant to the team, and how it might pose an issue or an opportunity, then the blip can be on everyone’s radar as a watch out:
- Our competition is pitching to buy out one of our product lines
- More customers are demanding mobile access
- The X process that we feed into in the finance department isn’t working properly
- We don’t have the same idea about Y – we are saying different things here
People listening might want to ask a clarification question:
- Which service line are you hearing about?
- Does Finance know about this?
Everyone needs to appreciate that until the blip turns into something ‘real’, then it is just a blip
Shared blips lead to appropriate actions being taken that would have otherwise not have been taken. And at this stage they don’t have to be fully discussed and agreed.
- Next time Tom feeds in to the finance department, he’ll probably now think to talk with his point of contact there about any process issues
- The leader will keep an ear out for facts or rumours about that product line
Keeping aligned is not a conversation
This exchange needs to be tightly managed as a ‘blip flagging’ exercise only. All temptations to explore / plan / speculate should be managed out to the right placer at the right time.
Finally, you can allocate any necessary actions: either to have someone to find out more, or to have those further conversations tabled on the right agenda in existing meetings. For example:
- The Team Leader will confirm any buyout rumours or get back with information on when that can be confirmed
- The mobile access topic will be raised at the cross-departmental meeting next Monday
End of meeting. That’s all you need to do to stay aligned. OK you might have to talk quickly to get around the table in 5 minutes – but it can be done : )
For the slide pack guide on Staying Aligned – please contact us.
I like the idea of keeping the short conversation focused on the blips only. We have previously used the ubiquitous SWOT analysis at various stages of projects but not as a regular part of a daily BAU process- this is where this blip approach could prove useful.