Tetris pieces

Alignment Equals Momentum

Contact: Kevin Cowherd

April 2, 2018

How many times in life have you been absolutely sure you have made the right decision? Does that number go up or down when you consider key business decisions you have made?

Over the past few years, we have come to rely on a critical formula developed by Professor Robert Zawacki (University of Colorado) that has become part of our consulting DNA:

Effective Decision (ED) = Right Decision (RD) x Commitment to the Decision (CD)

To demonstrate how this works, let’s examine this equation. Of these two options, which would likely produce the best result?

  • Option 1: ED = 100% RD x 50% CD
  • Option 2: ED = 90% RD x 80% CD

The magic of the formula is not in the math. It is in the commitment. Because commitment leads to alignment, and alignment leads to action. The secret to the commitment is the people. You can make the world’s best decision, but if you don’t have a committed team willing to execute that decision, you have nothing.

The higher your Effective Decision score, the more alignment you have, and that ensures momentum.

Unfortunately, lack of alignment is too often the organizational norm. Worse, many underestimate the negative power of misalignment. Misalignment creates confusion, rework, gaps, stress, and unexpected roadblocks. Misalignment is trapped potential—potential needed to win.


Alignment requires slowing down long enough to pull people along with you. Positional power alone won’t get it done. Alignment requires getting people involved early and often. Getting them involved in defining the who, what, when, why, and how will not only produce a better answer, but it will also increase the likelihood of success. It’s a simple and powerful way to maximize the equation.

We often build alignment by pulling cross functional teams together in off-site facilitated sessions to encourage robust dialogue and debate. With the right process, in the right environment, with the right team members, you have a great shot at leaving the room with one voice: alignment. Beware, though. Alignment has a half-life. Just when you think you have it, something always changes.