What follows is an oversimplification, but that doesn’t make it entirely invalid.
All models are wrong, but some are useful. // George Box
The output of any team in an organization can be represented by a vector. It is comprised of:
- The quantity and quality of work produced (distance).
- The degree to which that work contributes to the organization’s larger strategy (direction).
Too often an organization’s leadership will assign teams conflicting vectors. This may result in each team producing stellar individual vectors, which unfortunately contribute nothing to or even detract from the organization’s larger strategy. The vectors cancel out.
The organization’s leadership should instead work to define and communicate the larger strategy, mathematically represented by its desired net vector. Only then are teams empowered to produce work that contributes to that strategy by making sure the direction of their vector contributes to the organization’s desired net vector.
When forced to choose, teams should prioritize directional alignment over total distance.