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Back To The Future Series: Alignment

Charlie Feld has always stressed the importance of making sure leaders have a shared vision throughout a transformation. 20 years ago, I had the good fortune to work for a company where Charlie Feld was the CIO and I can share first hand the positive impact of maintaining this alignment. Charlie spent much of his time not only speaking, but also listening, providing additional context, adjusting the message, and drawing on countless whiteboards, all in an effort to ensure people and teams stayed aligned.

Alignment is one of the key guiding principles Charlie shares in every session we hold with our growing leadership community. It contributes to transparency, fosters trust across the organization, and magnifies the contributions of teams toward achieving the desired outcomes and objectives set by the organization.

As we continue to go through our archives, we found this 2010 clip of Charlie talking about the importance of alignment. When we asked Charlie if he would mind if we shared it he quipped we might not want to because his suit and tie may no longer be in style. While we know he was kidding, Charlie’s insight and the principles he shares in this video are as relevant today as they were when he recorded this.

Topic: Alignment

Timeframe: May 2010

Place/Context: Arrowhead Ranch/Blind Spot Interview

Video Transcript


“I think one of the key parts to sustained performance of an organization, and confidence of an organization, is the ability to cut a deal, as I’ve said before, that’s doable and sustainable, but it also has to be aligned. Because in large organizations there are many, many stresses, some short-term, some long-term. Each function has its own set of needs, and unless you get alignment in the organization so that even though you might have dozens of major projects going on, they all fit into some kind of future-state vision that can be connected up as you go.

So, the idea of alignment starts with a shared mental model, of what we’re trying to get done, and a shared vision. When I talk about mental models, I always think about the bubble on top of a cartoon character’s head where somebody says something, or they use a term or a word, and you look at the bubble above each person’s heads, and they have two different pictures because their frame of reference is so different. I think that working on continuously keeping the shared vision in front of people, continually adjusting it, and continuing to get mental models to be shared, or frameworks, or frame of reference, keeps the organization from draining a lot of energy off to the side. If you spend this much energy going forward, you don’t dissipate 40 to 50% of it because people are slightly misaligned. Slightly misaligned can cost you years on major programs, months on projects, and significant amounts of money.”


Author: Meredith Sasser,  Affiliate, The Feld Group Institute
Connect with Meredith Sasser on LinkedIn



Further Learning

If you are interested in learning more about this important topic additional resources can be found on this site, including Alignment Is Critical In Times of Uncertainty, Aligning Strategy to Business Capability, Business Architecture – Linking Strategic Themes To Tactical Demand, and Leading The Acceleration of Business Transformation. For additional information, please contact us and ask about attending one of our leadership development programs or scheduling a workshop.





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Russell Villemez

Affiliate, The Feld Group Institute

Head of Technology Strategy, Dialexa – a Feld Group Institute partner

Highly regarded CTO and change agent with IT strategy and enterprise architecture expertise.

Russell Villemez is an Affiliate with the Feld Group Institute and the head of Technology Strategy at Dialexa, a Technology Research, Design and Creation firm that works with organizations on initiatives such as Operational Transformation, Business Growth, and New Venture Creation.

During 17 years in operational roles and 15 years in consulting roles, Russell has worked across a variety of industries in both executive leadership positions and as a subject matter expert. Russell thrives on the scale and complexity of leading major change agendas in large corporate environments.

Recent consulting clients include AmerisourceBergen, the American Automobile Association, Brinker International, Cubic, Equifax, and Cox Automotive. A common thread is the client’s need for strong leadership during a period of change—whether motivated by acquisitions, spin-offs, competitive pressures, or other factors. Clients also benefit from Russell’s expertise in enterprise architecture, agile development, application portfolio rationalization, technology and architecture strategy, as well as business strategy and commercial software product development.

Recognized as a versatile IT executive, adept at solving complex problems with innovative solutions, Russell’s capabilities and achievements span a continuum from business-strategy formation to hands-on IT solution development. His extensive career achievements include pioneering the first use of relational databases in high-volume transaction systems in the ‘80s, applying voice recognition DSPs in public intelligent network services for consumer markets in the ‘90s, and leading large-scale adoptions of open systems, object technology, and middleware frameworks in complex business environments, often in advance of commercially available software products.

Prior to joining Dialexa, Russell served at HP as Enterprise Services Chief Technology Officer for the Americas, leading a global capability for embedded Account CTOs in large enterprises. Russell began his career at Accenture, where he first crafted his consultative problem-solving approach, later honed at A.T. Kearny and the Feld Group. Russell’s deep telecom experience is built upon numerous director and enterprise architect positions at AT&T, Bell Atlantic, Telstra, US West, Pacific Bell, and Sprint, and as V.P. and CIO for WebLink Wireless.

Russell has a BS in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University. In his spare time, Russell participates in amateur auto racing, and is a driving instructor with the Porsche Club of America.