Most of us have driven a car with alignment trouble. We know it pulls one way or the other, and we know if we don’t get it fixed we’ll be replacing our tires sooner than we’d like, but we don’t always know exactly what causes the trouble.
“It’s pulling to the left,” we might say, and the technician will know to check as many as sixteen factors that keep our vehicles in alignment. We may not know what camber or steering axis inclination means, but we know we’re better off when the systems are properly aligned.
Alignment plays a major role in business, as well. All great businesses, whether they have offices around the globe or just a few people working out of a garage, have four elements working in alignment with each other: customers, purpose, culture, and leadership.
Even if Redmond produces the greatest products on the planet, we don’t have a business unless our customers agree. Understanding what our customers value, and sharing their values, is crucial to our success.
Ask yourself why we’re in business. At the end of the day, what is it we hope to provide that makes the endeavor worthwhile for us and our customer? Is our purpose in alignment with what our customer values?
A company’s culture is a framework for what is acceptable or normal within each team. Culture touches on hiring, planning, developing and compensating associates, interacting with customers—every aspect of our behavior combines to create Redmond’s culture.
One of the unique attributes of Redmond’s culture is the idea that each associate is a leader. Unlike most companies who rely on seniority and hierarchy, Redmond works to create leaderfull teams that view each other as equals. Leadership—whether from the CEO’s desk or in your break room conversations—helps communicate our culture, purpose, and customer values.
Why Alignment Matters
Consider these four elements in a company like Walmart. Walmart has always been about saving money—for their customers and their business. If Walmart decided to implement a culture like Redmond’s, they would find themselves out of alignment with their overall purpose and the values of their customers. It wouldn’t serve their customers or their business.
There is no single right way to do business. What matters most is that the needs of our customers align with our purpose, culture, and leadership. In the next issue of Elevate, we’ll look at Redmond through this framework for alignment and begin to explain why our culture works the way it does.