I've had the honor and privilege of working recently with John Foley, who is truly one of the world's most inspiring motivational speakers. As many of you know, John is a former U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot. His experiences on that genuinely awesome precision flying team are an essential part of his presentations, and they offer many relevant lessons for modern CIOs.

The CenterPoint™ is a Blue Angels concept that is especially relevant for CIOs and IT leaders. From John's perspective, every organization needs a CenterPoint - it's a "north star" that everyone in the organization recognizes and understands. High-performance organizations use CenterPoints to maintain alignment, adapt to change and sustain execution at peak levels. 

"Not all CenterPoints are created equal," John explains. "You can have tactical CenterPoints and strategic CenterPoints. The Blue Angels have tactical CenterPoints we use for reference while flying air shows (a building when we're flying over land, a boat when we're flying over water) and a strategic CenterPoint that defines our larger purpose - we're the U.S. Navy's ambassadors of good will."

During his presentations, John describes how the Blue Angels use the CenterPoint concept in their amazing air shows. "One of our most exciting maneuvers is the Loop Break Cross, in which we all zoom off in different directions. From the audience's viewpoint, it looks like we've disappeared. Moments later, we reappear in a 'stack'-each plane crossing over the same point, but at different altitudes," says John.

The "secret" of the stack is this: Before every air show, the Blue Angels identify an object on the ground or in the water that's easy to see from the air.  "It becomes our common focal point, and each of us knows exactly where it is. No matter what kind of maneuver we're flying, we use it as a reference to keep us aligned," John explains.

The CenterPoint is a valuable tool for CIOs and IT leaders who need to maintain alignment and focus over the course of long and complicated projects. If you can establish a CenterPoint - a common point of reference that everyone can easily grasp - you're much more likely to achieve your goals, on time and on budget. It's also extremely useful for maintaining critical alignment between the CIO, the C-suite and multiple business units of the enterprise.

Nobody expects the IT organization to perform ultra-precise aerial maneuvers like the Loop Break Cross. But we can still learn from the experiences of great teams like the Blue Angels, who establish a common CenterPoint and always know exactly where to find it.

Does your IT organization have a CenterPoint? Please email me and let me know. I'm interested in hearing about your ideas and experiences.