During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney got a lot of flak when he said, “Companies are people, too.” It was probably (well, certainly) the wrong thing in the context of a presidential election but it can be a useful analogy—especially when discussing alignment. When a major issue comes up at your company, is everybody at the table trying to serve the same “person's” interests? Or is one person serving the engineering team, another person serving the sales team, one board member serving the VC fund, another serving the early-stage angel investors—and another serving the CEOs? Or is everybody serving the company's interests? If they're not, your team is misaligned—“nobody” else's interests are nearly as important as those of the company.
FIVE KEYS TO STARTUP ALIGNMENT
You can't align everybody behind your company's interests if you can't clearly define and communicate those interests. Doing so requires five steps:
- Define the mission. Be clear to everyone about where you're going and how you're going to get there (in keeping with your values).
- Set annual priorities, goals and targets. Turn the broader mission into something more concrete with prioritized goals and unambiguous success metrics, as described in the prior chapter.
- Encourage bottom-up planning. You and your executive team need to set the major strategic goals for the company but every member of your team should be able to design their own path to contribution. Just be sure ...