Monthly Archives: December 2009

Weasel Word Wednesday #5 – Alignment

Being aligned is A GOOD THING. Clearly, as everyone seems to be aiming for this. The colloquial equivalent could be ‘on the same page’, also an overused cliché.

In my industry (IT), everyone has been banging on for years about how IT needs to be aligned with the business. Happily the discussion has since moved on (see this nice ZDNet blog), because IT is now PART of the business and not just aligned with it. But the word has spread widely and pops up in all sorts of places. HR being the worst place for it, in my view. Until recently my employer had a system called the ‘alignment tool’, which was actually a performance management system, a way to track people’s objectives, performance reviews and so on. But to me it sounded like a euphemism for torture, a little bit Nazi concentration camp. If you are not aligned, we have a tool which will align you! Happily it’s now called ‘talent management’, a much more positive term even if still corporate-speak.

Some other great examples of this weasel word:

  • ‘This alignment project will not only help refine our current positioning in the marketplace, but provide a framework for discussing the inherent value in the profession and the Association in a clear, compelling and cohesive voice.’ – Special Libraries Association, on their ‘Alignment Project
  • ‘The core HRA principle is that Organizational Effectiveness begins with the alignment of Human Resources and Business Objectives.  Organizations simply can not be effective without this alignment.’ – an HR consulting firm whose goal is ‘aligning people and organizations to optimize talent and performance’. Hmmm.
  • Alignment: using the balanced scorecard to create corporate synergies’ – a book by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. Don’t think I’ll be reading that one…

It’s such an important word in business that a quick Google search turns up a bunch companies with it in their name: Aligned Business Consulting, Aligned Business Services, Aligned IT as well as the aforementioned Human Resource Alignment… oh dear.