Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

Alignment and compliance

Alignment in an organization is not just being compliant.

Let’s take a case. I lead an organization with a vision to deliver curated and actionable News to the customers. John Doe reports to me and owns the Small Business vertical. At my level, with a ton of customer research we hypothesized that manual news aggregation isn’t going to scale and we will take a bet on AI based model. AI based model has a potential to redefine our engineering structure. Before I close on the strategy, I ask John Doe for his input.

John Doe has two options.

He studies the hypothesis and finds definite value in automated aggregation. He gets the conviction of his team. Automated aggregation is next generation technology, and the organization has a lot of effort behind the move. It will definitely be successful and thus help his charter. He can use the resources freed up to take that long pending project! He says yes. Easy and fast closure.

Alternatively, John Doe is grounded to the field. He deeply understands his customers and thus knows that Small Business vertical requires a lot of depth to curate news. He wants to talk and find if the new hypothesis holds merit for his customers. He reads through the customer research, finds the Small Business vertical to be under-represented. So he comes back with a proposal to experiment and then use data to pivot.

If you were me, which approach would you value more?

Compliance does not have customer in the equation. It is simply the act of offloading a decision, and the pains associated with stretching, making noise and deriving the right direction. Compliance sometimes guises under the rationale of trust or not duplicating the effort. It is easy.

It isn’t prudent to assume right things will happen to your customer because of shiny bright futuristic initiatives. Don’t I owe my customers the empathy to listen, engage and make things happen inside to lead them towards success?

That’s true alignment in my opinion.