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  • Writer's pictureDean Hiller

Art of Alignment for Dev Teams

I have been blessed to have known the author of "The Art of Alignment" and even got to review the book before it came out.


It is really a practical how-to guide rather than a book steeped in Theory. I had a chance to use this for a full year at Orderly Health and it was quite amazing. I also combine it with my own experiments which Patty talks about in one of her blog articles. This is my key take aways from the book.

  • first of five

  • The question of what brings you from 0,1,2, or 3 to a 4 or 5

  • Pitching new solutions until we get rather close and calling it

  • Writing down the decision as an experiment to be voted on later(this one I added)

Asking the whole team for a fist of five over a thumbs up vs. thumbs down was an amazing indicator revealing people that are only barely a thumbs up and giving them a voice. This always resulted in a follow-up question of "What brings you from a 2 to a 5". Sometimes, the insights were so amazing from this question, the whole team would drastically lower their votes and we might pivot to one of the other potential solutions.

Using this method really helped give insight around who sits where on some things. I have seen one leader come to me and ask "I really want it to be this way so can't I just force this decision". Sure, you can, however, it also does not hurt to ask first and let people have a voice. I seen a few different situations that come from asking first

  1. The whole team unanimously agrees(and you do not have to force anything)

  2. The whole team disagrees - I haven't seen this occur yet, but if it does be very careful and listen a ton

  3. The team is somewhere in the middle - BUT still ask what brings you from a 2 to a 5

In the case of #1, this is a way better result. In the case of #2, listen and you may change your mind. If you do not, feel free to proceed however right it down as an experiment to be voted on later as to how it went. Propose it as an experiment that you want to try and ask them to bear with you rather than just forcing it on the organization.


Experiments

A brief note on experiments. It is my belief that as leaders, we are constantly making decisions that affect multiple teams and an entire organization. Each of these is an experiment and can be reverted. It may be a more costly experiment but it is still something that can be changed. It is much like Jeff Bezos and his idea of one-way doors and two-way doors. In fact, the way we run experiments is that for any two-way doors, we typically roll them out FIRST, and vote after running the experiment. For any one-way doors, we vote first before rolling the experiment out. You can read more about Jeff Bezos, one-way doors and two way doors in many blog articles on the internet.

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