This concept points towards a way of swarming where individuals can sense into and find alignment together in an ongoing way.
Bringing together "dynamic" and "alignment" suggests that things change as people change: what information they have changes, and concerns surface. For this reason there is no use in forcing agreement, as in the consensus process, where it is easy to get stuck in "lowest common denominator" effects. In using dynamic alignment, a group focuses on where alignment already exists and where it is most possible and most needed.
For April, let’s explore Dynamic Alignment as the theme for the month.
This is alive for me, personally, because of the herd of horses that appear to run my inner world. And lately, getting alignment has been a challenge.
Wild Horses Always Drag Me Away...
A few years ago, someone labeled these different inner voices of mine as my horses, since these mammals seem to be, basically, my spirit animal. I have fully taken this on. I settled into listening to the whinnies and neighs (voices) within: controller, inner child, editor, adventure-seeker, rational strategist, etc. My inner horses don’t always run together as one, sometimes they bolt or roll in the mud. One particular one, let’s call it Will, likes to hold the rest at the edge of the cliff, threatening to throw them all off. Finding an evolving changing dynamic alignment with them is crucial to maintaining some semblance of sanity. ;)
So what does dynamic alignment mean to you? How do you personally experience internal alignment on your decisions and actions? How are you sitting with, being with, the pulls and tugs of inner guidance? Do you have an inner herd of horses or some other conceptual metaphor to describe your inner voices? What are they?
For more about my horses, or your birds, corporations, or forests, see Voice Dialogue Work.
We used to come up with big plans of the destinations we wanted to get to. Overspecifying in the midst of complexity. Then we switched to just reacting to whatever came. What can happen if we remix these two strategies together? Can we move in the same direction? We call this Directions v Destinations. Are you so focused on a destination that you miss the opportunity in front of you to move forward together? Are you so emergent that you can’t move with purpose?
See Melissa’s 2010 documentary film Life in Perpetual Beta about this contextual shift from the switch from making plans to taking opportunities.
We can talk about directions. Dynamic Alignment, relationally, allows us to move in the same direction with our collaborators, even if we can’t agree on a final vision or complete the image of where we want to get to (and if we want to do something more strategic than just reacting). What step to take next doesn’t require us to know where we will finish yet is guided by a shared sense of the way forward.
We too easily focus on where we don’t have alignment on our goals together. Where can you find alignment to work with and then invite it to evolve dynamically in time?
Organizations with enough differentiation between participants can end up struggling with the different desires/goals of those participants. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle, this can be a strength if we can dynamically align together to achieve the balance of our goals/desires.
Take something like the “iron triangle” where you can’t have quality, timeliness, and budget all achieved together (black dot in the middle). Using a tool like Where from Eric Harris-Braun (https://eric.harris-braun.com/blog/2021/09/16/id-377 ), or even just a shared board in physical space, you can say where you want the group to be focusing, where you think the current balance is, and then navigate with others to sense the wisdom of the whole. Without this, it can easily degrade into “so and so is a stickler for details that makes us late on delivery” or “She just seems concerned with money and not on a quality product.” When these are made personal we lose the collective wisdom that can generate our best collective output.
I also encourage people to list the consequences of not holding for one of the points outside, on the opposite angle. This way the group can see what the concern is and choose mindfully between the risks of each.
Can you recall a recent situation in your organization where this was or could be applied? What other tools for doing dynamic alignment have you played with?
As y’all know, the plasmodial slime mold is my spirit animal. This week, I want to look at what the conditions are for alignment in a slime mold and see if it offers us any insight into how humans might dynamically align together into a larger systems.
Our handy 101 on slime molds comes from Wikipedia:
When food is abundant, these slime molds exist as single-celled organisms. When food is in short supply, many of these single-celled organisms will congregate and start moving as a single body. In this state they are sensitive to airborne chemicals and can detect food sources. They can readily change the shape and function of parts, and may form stalks that produce fruiting bodies, releasing countless spores, light enough to be carried on the wind or hitch a ride on passing animals. Wikipedia
What linking can we do of conditions that help lead us toward the dynamic alignment we seek? Bombarding people with polarizing propaganda is probably not on the list. So, how are we checking the social weather to see if these conditions are ripe for aligning? What is the ideal temperature for that? Maybe it is better when it is cold? Maybe it is when it is windy and we all turn away from the wind?
Considering conditions has reminded me of trigger stacking. If you want to start a new habit, stack it on an old one. For example, to add the habit of engaging with gratitude, stack it on the practice of brushing your teeth. Then, every time you brush, you also think of ways you feel grateful. It makes it much easier to start the new habit by linking it to one you do faithfully.
And if we are collectively habit stacking to create conditions for dynamic alignment, then do we have a social protocol about eating meals together, playing Frisbee, or beginning a meeting with a few minutes of silence? What practice or ritual opens the way that help us know we can move together?
What social protocols help you check the social weather and gather a sense of alignment and care that allows a group to move together? Is it about making metrics socially visible? Showing who your partners are for events and on your website?
What habit trigger stacking can you do that may help with supporting dynamic alignment for the systems you participate in?