The real business strategy problem most organizations are dealing with
If you ask any senior executive of any business whether they have a business strategy, they'll answer in the affirmative. The quality of that strategy - how rigorous, competitive and attainable it is - might vary, sure. But today, you'd be hard-pressed to find any organization that hasn't made some kind of formal attempt at charting a course of action for achieving specific business goals.
The strategy problem most businesses are facing is not a lack of strategy - it’s a lack of strategic alignment.
Let's take a look at the numbers:
65% of organizations have an agreed-upon strategy.
14% of employees understand the organization’s strategy.
Less than 10% of all organizations successfully execute the strategy.
Strategy 101: Its all about alignment from Forbes
The big takeaway here is that final bullet: It doesn't matter how well-conceived your business strategy is - without alignment, chances are you won't succeed in seeing it through to execution.
So what is strategy alignment and how why do some many organizations struggle with it? Let's dig in.
Strategic alignment: What it is, and what it is not
Let's set one thing straight right away. Strategic alignment is not framing a large wall print of your company's vision or mission statement and hanging it in the breakroom for all to see and (probably not) admire. In actuality, these are called 'mission statement displays,' and in certain cases they can be useful when done tastefully and only when and where it actually makes sense.
Strategy alignment, on the other hand, is much more than wall art. It encompasses both your team's mindset and production. It involves employees' shared knowledge and understanding of strategic goals as well as a resulting commitment to them in their day-to-day job functions.
Strategy alignment definition:
Strategic alignment: The process and the result of linking an organization's structure and resources with its strategy and business environment.
I also like the following definition from AlignOrgSolutions -
An aligned organization is one that optimally syncs the work, structure, metrics, people, rewards, culture, and leadership to strategy
When strategically aligned, your vision, mission, and strategic plans become living, breathing features of your organization - reflected in the efforts and output your team generates every day. Strategic alignment can also generate a positive feedback loop - where your strategy and tactics are continously refined through their application and testing throughout the organization.
The benefits of being strategically aligned
Having team members who understand and are aligned with the overarching business strategy results in a host of benefits to the organization. Increased speed in decision-making, better employee engagement, and less wasted resources are among them. Below, we've shared a short list of these benefits developed by the Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness (CMOE):
-Focus energy in the right areas at the right time
-Reduce or abolish workplace redundancies
-Eliminate conflicting priorities
-Increase team-member coordination, communication, & buy-in
-Clarify the capabilities and competitive advantages of the organization
-Provide structure and clarity of purpose for employees
-Empower all team members to shape the future of the organization
-Support market maneuverability; a must in a rapidly changing global economy
*List from CMOE.com
Achieving strategic alignment is a crucial step in connecting your strategic vision to reality and effectively mapping a way toward strategy execution. You'll also find that it can be a time consuming and politically-charged process as well. If you're wondering how to measure or increase your strategic alignment, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.