Business Magazine

Creating Clarity & Alignment

Posted on the 12 April 2011 by Cameronchell

Principle 4 – Step 1


sustainable startup, organizational development

Keeping passion in perspective and ego’s in check is often like watching a sheepdog round up a flock of sheep. It requires absolute diligence at all times and the knowledge that sometimes, a little bite isn’t a bad thing but is in fact necessary.

Passion and tenacity can work hand in hand in a very synchronistic relationship. One feeds the other and constantly pushes its boundaries. Tenacity chasing Passion is almost as dangerous as Passion alone.  Tenacity drives startups while unbridled passion destroys them. Keeping both these triggers in check requires two very simple and always complex things: Clarity and Alignment.


Team and individuals need to know why they are doing what they’re doing. Whether its long term, short term or just daily tasks there needs to be a system in place that helps guide these actions. Clarity becomes about seeing how the actions of each team member affect the picture both big and little. Much the same way that Principle One is designed to determine a company’s Why, Step 1 helps to create the Why, How and What for each team member.

Why am I doing what I’m doing?

How am I going to get my “why” done?

What is the day to day result of what I do?

Having your team members ask these questions of themselves will help them achieve clarity within their position and in their actions. If you are having a “passion” or ego problem with a team member or partner, have  them do this exercise and review it in conjunction with the Why, How, and What or your Why, How and What and determine where you differ and how you can change for the better.


In Principle One alignment is encouraged through the creation of Personal Elevator Pitch (PEP) and while the PEP is effective for determining an individual’s role an extra step is required for helping keep the ego in check.

This extra step requires a lot of initial footwork to create a culture that allows for pushback from all employees.  Constructive conflict in a startup is used to pushback against ideas, not to discredit and necessarily dissuade but to get to the core of the idea itself.

Constructive conflict is a necessary measure to keep egos in check and passion in perspective in startups:


1: How is it currently done?

Gather your team or those having passion problems and sit down to discuss the situation. Write down How each member, or members specifically accomplish their PEP.

2: Is there a different way?

Have all members sit down and discuss other ways in which the How can be accomplished. This is a brainstorming session so let every idea get put up and discussed.

3: Vote it through:

After the brainstorming is done have each member of the team vote for their top three methods. Attach numbers to each idea, 3 for most valuable, 2 for second, 1 for least. After each member has voted add up the numbers to determine which is the agreed upon method of accomplish How.

When ideas are presented or suggested often there is a great deal of attachment to them. People tend to emotionally invest themselves in solutions or suggestions they have brought forward. This passion and attachment can become problematic when ideas are challenged. Creating situations of constructive conflict in which ideas are challenged removes the personal link between people and the ideas.

If passion can be removed and the focus can be placed on what the idea represents teams can effectively determine whether the idea is beneficial to your startup or not. 

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