NewCos are All About Alignment

I just read a great post by NewCo founder John Battelle on trends that are remaking business. This is a good read for anyone in any business, and quickly summarizes some of the mega-trends that are changing how we work, who we work for, what we buy, who we buy from, and what it takes to build a successful business.

His point #4 really jumped out at me:

4. A job is table stakes. To win talent, companies must compete on purpose, authenticity, and organizational structure. 

Millennials are now the largest force in the global economy, and they have a markedly different view of work: Purpose and “making a difference in the world” are central in their work-related decisions. They’d rather work at The Honest Company than Unilever, if given a choice – and the best and brightest always have a choice. Members of the next generation want to be at a company where work means more than a paycheck. They believe work can be a calling (Reich) or an expression of our creativity (Florida). BigCos aren’t currently organized to enable their workforces in this way (human resources, anyone?), but NewCos – even the very largest ones like Google – most definitely are.

This is just another way of saying that, from this point forward, successful organizations need to focus on alignment in a way that “BigCos” haven’t. Why? Because workers and customers have more freedom of choice than ever before. And they will choose options that align with their own personal view of purpose, passion and priorities.

BigCos didn’t used to think this way. Alignment could be a byproduct of “winning”, and Level 5 Leadership. In Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote:

To my great surprise, we did not find the question of alignment to be a key challenge faced by the good-to-great leaders. Clearly, the good-to-great companies did get incredible commitment and alignment– they artfully managed change — but they never really spent much time thinking about it. It was utterly transparent to them. We learned that under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change just melt away. They largely take care of themselves.

What’s different? Mostly, timelines, and choice. The companies profiled in Good to Great often transformed over years. The “wrong” people got “off the bus” through attrition. Today, NewCos often set the conditions to succeed or fail over a much shorter time frame. And great workers have many more options of who to work for, and how. If a NewCo has built a truly aligned organization, they may win and survive for the long haul (in a modern business lifecycle context, at least).

As I’ve written in other posts, there are some specific, intentional things an organization can do to build alignment from the ground up, and keep it. In the NewCo economy, this becomes the new “table stakes.”

I recommend you read John’s entire post. It’s excellent and insightful.

Question: What is your organization doing to attract and engage new, aligned team members? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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