Getting Realigned Around Your North Star

When you’re in our business, you get to see what’s going on behind the scenes in many businesses. Over and over again, there’s one challenge we see more than any other: Alignment.

In a perfect world, our teams would have an aligned goal, a North Star, and we’d all be moving in the same direction toward that North Star with open and active communication guiding our collaboration. Creating a culture that is aligned like that is more challenging than we might think, and it’s one of the things that slows down growth and transformation.

Here are the four scenarios we consistently see…

Unaligned Without A True North Star
This team lacks a true North Star. Without a common goal or destination, the individuals on these teams define their own North Stars and put their energy toward their divergent goals. The result, as you may imagine, is chaos. Even if one or two achieve their goal, it’s not the common goal, and organizational growth stands still – or even moves backward. Lack of alignment and no shared mission can be paralyzing.

Unaligned With A North Star
This team has a common North Star, but the team is splintered on how they will get there. With all members taking their own path toward the goal, they miss opportunities to support one another. Efficiencies get missed, and everyone ends up working harder, not smarter.

Aligned in Silos With A North Star
This team has a common North Star, and everyone understands the goal they are working toward. They are all heading in the same direction but doing so within silos. For example, Marketing has its own silo, separate from Sales. Ops has a silo as well, and so does Finance. Because each group stays in their silos and isn’t communicating freely, opportunities for collaboration and learning from one another are handcuffed. Solutions, wins, and failures are not shared – the result is like driving with the accelerator and brakes both to the floor simultaneously.

Aligned With A North Star And No Silos
When the groups and individuals within the aligned team break down the silos, communication opens up across the organization, and the handcuffs on collaboration are broken. Learning is shared, and efficiencies are increased. Together, the team creates forward momentum toward their North Star, and goals are reached more quickly and easily.


Each of our organizations falls into one of these four categories. For our team, we have moved between categories, and depending on the season we’re in, we occasionally slip backward. That’s normal. Changing that begins with asking some simple questions:

  1. Is our team aligned around one North Star, and is everyone clear on what that means?
  2. Is our team all moving in the same direction, or are individuals and groups going their own way?
  3. Are our teams stuck in silos, or is communication and collaboration free-flowing?

You can begin exploring what transformation looks like based on your answers to those questions. From our experience, coaching and bringing in an outside perspective will help you see things more clearly, eliminate blindspots, and remove some of the emotion that comes with asking these questions.

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