Organizational Alignment Research LO6051

Michael McMaster (
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 14:36:51 +0000

Replying to LO6036 --

Scott asks for data on alignment and its positive affect on
organisational performance. I'm sure that lots can be found when the
starting preference is accepted. I'm also sure that lots of contrary
instances will be ignored given the stated starting preference.

I suggest that alignment on anything explicit is not necessary and
that it's pursuit is often harmful. But I'll stick to the "not
necessary" for this case.

I worked as the sole outside agent of change for a chemical plant
manager who wanted to transform a very nasty place that was being
phased out by the parent company. The labour/management relations
were so bad and productivity so low that the company deemed it not
worth attempting to save. But the manager had different ideas.

He did not offer anything more common than his own desire to save the
plant. We did not work on or even talk about vision, mission or
common intentions throughout the transformation effort.

We did talk about mechanisms, about communications and relationships,
and about what it was like to work in that particular place from
experience. We did not even have any explicit values conversation
although they were always present in the background. However, in
this area too, we made no attempt to come to alignment or even
explicit statements.

Within 9 months, the plant was the model of the company's system. It
won quality awards, dramatically increased productivity, eliminated
accidents, was highly participative. The parent decided not only to
keep the plant but to invest $20 million in it. The previously
antagonistic union (or was it antagonistic management?) asked for the
priveledge of installing the new equipment rather than it be done by
outside contractors as previously - without overtime or additional
cost - and the contractors said it was the first time they'd seen
their equipment installed and work from the moment the switch was
turned on.

Michael McMaster :
book cafe site :
Intelligence is the underlying organisational principle
of the universe. Heraclitus


Michael McMaster <>

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