So-called ‘alignment’ is among the most hackneyed, overused and specious business terms in use today. It is a close second to the king of overused, trite and meaningless business expressions: leverage. Don’t fret, leverage is in a first-place tie with the queen of platitudinous, turgid and meaningless business words: value.
Did you ever notice how good business is at inventing new terms, but utterly incapable of retiring them when they are discovered to be useless and counterproductive? People hang on to obsolete business terms with a soapy sentimentality that is just revolting. It is not just rhetoric; these lingering, obsolete terms do real damage and hurt business.
A good rule is every time you start using a new term drop three obsolete ones. Did you pick up on social media? Okay, now drop useless corporate jargon like business process management, value network and best practices from your vernacular. Easy!
Let’s take the example of alignment. Alignment is specifically, “arrangement in a straight line.” Anyone that thinks today’s business is a straight line, is, well, out-of-business. Alignment is so wrong, so misused and so harmful it is beyond belief. Prosperous business and civil society is built on complex networks, NOT straight lines. Don’t get Spellbound by alignment!
For example, people pay dearly for lofty research reports saying that collaboration technology must be “aligned to business processes.”
The problem here is people have been saying the same thing for upwards of 30 years. This silly conversation, and the useless research is driven by vendors. That’s a huge issue. For this eyewash they want $499? Oy vay, what Chutzpah!
What about telephony and email? Heck, what about conversation? These account for 99% of all enterprise collaboration. Are they ‘aligned with business activities?’ One would hope so…
What about coming to work? Sitting? Getting dressed? Microprocessors, networks and display technology? Smart phones? Furniture? Again, all essential to enterprise collaboration, performance and prosperity. They don’t need research reports, ‘alignment’ or integration either.
Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, many researchers offer the classic chestnut for collaborative technology, ta-da!, ‘reducing travel.’ This nonsense has been tossed around for years and years. It’s a farce.
In reality, business travel is growing sharply and airports are packed. Good grief. This is an infuriating, gratuitous and utterly ridiculous vendor red herring.
If 1% of what the silly collaboration vendors EVER said came true, we would not need planes, train or automobiles! Good grief.
•In 1986, 75% of the knowledge that a worker needed was stored in their heads.
•By 2006, that number was estimated to be 9%. The needed information is no longer in the worker’s head but it is “out there” in the minds of others.
This is the fact and driver of enterprise collaboration; it’s not vendors and their specious research hubris. In high-performance organizations collaboration is perpetually increasing… including the all-important face time.
Meanwhile, ‘alignment’ is a command and control code word. It means do everything MY way or you are dead. Phony, inauthentic managers think people want Orwellian, 1984-style Newspeak and political terms like ‘alignment.’ It is just not so anymore. Business is now radically open and transparent, with no room or time for creepy Newspeak like alignment, leverage or value.
Software collaboration is a fact of life. It doesn’t need fancy research, it doesn’t need alignment or claims of it being a separate class of offering. Software collaboration is the wrong and obsolete unit of analysis.
Rather, trust people. If your collaboration software suite doesn’t get results for people, if it sucks, then it won’t get used. That’s all! Simple. It doesn’t need to be aligned OR integrated… it needs to get used. Most of time, when it comes to complex business activities, the best thing you can do is… get the heck out of the way!
“It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”
Forget about alignment and straight lines for business. Focus on networks and leadership.