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As organizations grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain alignment among individual contributors (ICs), managers, and executives.

Without alignment, decisions are re-litigated, escalated, or suboptimal. At Carta, we have two new initiatives to drive alignment: defining a canonical position on our shared execution strategy, and designating a select group of senior engineers as "Navigators" to drive and interpret that strategy across the organization. In our session, we’ll discuss why this helps, how we put them together, what we’ve learned so far, and when you might benefit from a similar program in your organization. 

Your engineering organization has a strategy, whether you know it or not. Those principles or considerations you apply to make a decision, or determine if a decision is "good" or not? That’s your strategy. And it can be immensely powerful to simply write this down. In a land full of debates on what to prioritize, what to build, and how to build it, a shared strategy is a shortcut to shared context and quick decisions. 

Even the best strategy is subject to nuance and exceptions. This is where Navigators come in. Our Navigators are strategically deployed across the organization to help others interpret our strategy. Navigators are empowered to make decisions and remove the need for consensus. This requires Navigators maintain a close relationship with engineering executives, making them ideal for identifying areas where strategy is missing or wrong. 

We’ll compare and contrast Navigators with Directors, juxtaposing a team and execution focus with that of the long-term health and productivity of software and systems. We’ll also dig into some specific scenarios where Navigators have increased velocity and driven organizational alignment. Finally, we’ll provide ideas for pitching a similar program at your organization.