REVIEW: Art Johnson — The Art of Alignment (BOOK)
Management consultant and CEO Art Johnson is one of several entrepreneurs and business leaders advocating for a progressive, scientific-minded and data-driven organization process abbreviated simply as the evocative ‘Alignment’ strategy. Johnson promotes this theory as a win-win for all involved, as he demonstrates in his new book The Art of Alignment: A Data-Driven Approach to Lead Aligned Organizations. He argues there cannot be true synchronicity within a corporation without everyone from top to bottom united and fully cognizant of the company’s standards, values, and goals.
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As brilliantly demonstrated in The Art of Alignment’s extensive, step-by-step process of illustrating the Alignment strategy in four, consecutive parts, Johnson communicates in a way that the widest possible audience will understand. Many people experienced in business, whether cognizant or not, often promote a semi-exclusivity with how they espouse complex contextual strategies. Johnson however is interested in making said theory evocative to the reader regardless of their professional background, and as a result the book proves itself to be more than just another speech on allegedly successful recipes for workplace success.
One of the most powerful examples of Johnson’s sparse, concise writing style is his meditation on the power of collaboration. Johnson repeatedly highlights the importance of leadership remaining open to said collaboration, that such a sense of humility in a position of power is not mutually exclusive to ensuring widespread corporate success. In a passage headlined Creativity as a Team Effort, Johnson writes, “Nearly every company talks about how it delivers ‘innovative solutions’ for its customers or how good it is at tapping its employees’ ‘creativity’. Yet not many companies are truly able to channel the creative energies of their employees to improve operational excellence, product ideas, or customer experience.”
He cites obscure yet cutting-edge examples of how interior innovation radically improved companies’ performances when it came to their respective consumer bases. Said examples include American Airlines saving $100,000 from reducing a single olive in a salad choice on the company menu, or Xerox’s assignment of plants to employees which saved them $200,000 annually from the deprivation of external service providers. Paraphrasing Gloria Foster from Matrix Reloaded, ‘There is one way to the future — together.’ Truer words haven’t served a log line for the Alignment organizational process.
Ultimately it’s this wholesomeness Johnson speaks about so beautifully that makes The Art of the Alignment stand out as an impressive achievement. Technically it’s a flawlessly elaborate descriptor of business acumen skills, but it’s also a profound read on a level decidedly visceral. The idea business no longer requires hierarchies based on excess power or a sense of fear is an incredibly hopeful prospect. It will be uplifting to see how cons traditionally featured in the workplace narrative will change, as strategies offer employees more of a chance to sit at the table.