STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT PART 1, EXECUTING THE PLAN
- What is strategic alignment?
- Why is strategic alignment important?
- How to start strategic alignment?
- Tips for strategic alignment success?
What is Strategic Alignment?
Successful strategic execution is all about linkage, and working together. Strategic Alignment is the linkage from strategy, through people, resources, finances, and tactics. It is how you get real results.
Strategic alignment is the strength of the links “between an organisation’s overall goals and the goals of each of the units that contribute to the success of those overall goals” (Andolsen, 2007). The concept is closely related to strategic fit, which exists when the network of internal performance drivers is consistent and aligned with the firm’s desired customer and financial outcomes (Kaplan & Norton, 2006).
Strategic alignment is a fundamental business concept that determines the competitiveness of an organisation. The concept explains how organisations can better achieve strategic alignment to increase growth and profitability – even in the toughest markets and economic climates.
Why is Strategic Alignment Important?
Negotiating a workplace that doesn’t flow is extremely difficult for leaders, employees, and product. Often, the leaders have to put so much effort into finding out what is happening that they become ineffective. Employees spend more time looking for the next job than actually working on it, and your product just doesn’t flow properly.
The results are catastrophic because efficiency and productivity go down, and also inventory goes up. Deliveries go down, and cash stops coming in. Eventually customers get frustrated, and orders are lost.
The answer is to link everything together in the organisation, including people, processes, and product. Also important to note, is that the only chance you get to actually install this linkage, is by building it in to the execution plan that compliments your strategy.
How to Start Strategic Alignment
Unfortunately, as we all know, execution is far more difficult than defining the strategy. Executing the plan is hard work, and it relies on putting finance, and resources in the right place at the right time. Again, this must be done at the time that the plan is produced. You already know what you need to achieve from your strategy document, and you know what budgets are available. You also know what people and things you have around you. Construct your execution plan with these things in mind, and make sure that everyone who owns the resources appreciates the expected benefits that go with executing the plan through your demand on those resources.
This process of planning with finances and resources in mind means that you have three elements aligned, leadership, finances, and resources. These three things will work together to make the plan easier to execute.
Mike Roach, CEO at CGI a 31,000 people strong IT firm said “Strategy without execution is hallucination! Drive strategic alignment & watch the results soar”
Tips for Strategic Alignment Success
Use Continuous Improvement as the vehicle to improve and align your processes and be sure to measure and review your execution constantly, this will allow you to make necessary tweaks, to ensure that the plan always meets the needs of the organisation.
Lead, communicate, engage: Be systematic
Take the necessary time to produce a set of objectives that reflect your stakeholders’ needs
• Keep your vision simple so that it is easily understood, and then people will buy in to it
• Make your mission mean something, because designing a meaningful statement will make it easier to realise
• Build an execution plan that balances budgets and resources with goals, but be realistic
• Communicate a single clear message about your, and this will open up the strategy to the entire workforce.
• Ask everyone, in the organisation for their support to execute your plan. Moreover, get their opinion!
• Ensure that you have a continuous improvement culture, so that you can get things done
• Go back to the execution plan at least once a week to ensure that it is still current, and is on track
• Measure as many drivers as are necessary, but use around 5 results measures to inform decisions
• Make tactics count. If it isn’t going to move your strategic plan forward, challenge why you are doing it at all.
You should expect daily challenges and frame problems within a system, because only then can you manage them effectively. Tactics, are the things we employ to make the strategy happen, make them systematic, and remember Mike’s words!