STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT – PART 2, ONE DIRECTION
- Recap Part 1
- Strategies Fail without Strategic Alignment
- Strategic Alignment needs Employee Engagement
- Strategic Alignment Success Relies on Review
- Overcoming Fear in Strategic Alignment
- Strategic Alignment Needs Effort
Recap of Part 1
In Strategic Alignment – Part 1, we describedthe basic problems of having strategic plans that don’t have an execution path. We also started to show a few tips to help you think a little more about how to deliver on your strategic plan using strategic alignment as a spine for roll-out. Now we are going to look in a bit more depth at both of these things.
Strategies Fail without Strategic Alignment
When good strategies fail, it can be frustrating, and difficult to understand. However, the fault most likely lies with the execution of that strategy, not with its aspirations.
There is a lot of information out there about planning, and setting a strategy, but not much about how to turn it into success. MBA programmes perpetuate this theory, often leading the student to analyse results rather than defining what execution is, or moreover, what it looks like. This has led to a lack of expertise in strategic execution, and a lot of planning and replanning.
There is a competency gap
This lack of expertise can have serious consequences. In a recent survey of senior executives at 197 companies, conducted by a leading management consulting firm, respondents said, that on average, their firms achieved only 63% of the expected results of their strategic plans. We believe that much of that gap between expectation and performance is a failure to execute the company’s strategy effectively, through failure to join up people, processes, and products.
Strategic Alignment needs Employee Engagement
Like any other change in the way an organisation does things, strategies need buy-in. They must be effectively communicated, and they must also be engaging. The strategy must not only define markets, target customers, and new product initiatives. It must also define the tactics that will be used to deliver success. It must carefully deploy resources to ensure success is possible, and it must define where the budget will be spent, and how to maximise value.
One team, one plan, one direction
Senior executives often overlook the workforce as a driver for strategic execution, yet the performance of sales, quality, finance, and output, is a direct result of the interactions, and efforts of all members of staff. The people wielding pens or spanners have to be aware of the plan, and every member of every team must be able to articulate the organisation’s vision and understand how they affect the results.
When brought together properly this is the embryo of a successful culture and drives real motivation. Aligning everyone, and everything, will create the true differential between your results and those of your competitor. You will be better.
“like any other change, strategies need buy in. They must be effectively communicated, and they must also be engaging.”
Strategic Alignment Success Relies on Review
You may find it incredible to believe, and yet it is true. Just 10%, that’s one in ten, of organisations execute their strategy as well as they planned to. So, why is this? It is because they fail do a very important thing, and that is to continually review the plan.
Most organisations manage to put together a strategic plan that will achieve the results that their stakeholders expect, and yet performance very rarely meets that expectation. This is because things change daily, and if the world, and your market conditions, are highly dynamic it stands to reason that the plans you make to meet your strategy have to be dynamic too.
Overcoming Fear in Strategic Alignment
Fear of change shouldn’t be an excuse for failure to execute, it should be a reason to review the strategy more often. Moreover, these reviews need to be a habit. It must be normal that the leadership team sit down and review the strategy, its execution plan, and the metrics that it is generating.Just an hour of this review time every week will make a huge difference. This is because it gives the opportunity to make adjustments to the plan when things change. Now more than ever, flexibility is a prerequisite of delivering on a strategy.
Engage the Workforce
Like most changes, the fear comes from the uncertainty involved. By engaging workforces with the entire strategic process from plan to execution, the fear of change can be somewhat elevated, as there is so much less uncertainty. In fact, when employees feel like they are part of the evolution and can take ownership, it stands to reason that they will drive change without so much leadership effort, and managerial time.
Strategic Alignment Needs Effort
The fact is that 70% of organisations fail to execute well. Moreover, most leaders only spend 1 hour per month on their strategic plans. Only 10% of companies execute effectively. Of these – the best leaders spend around 33% of their time planning or reviewing their strategies. The difference in results are plain to see, with these outstripping the opposition and delivering what they communicated to their stakeholders on time and in full.
Try putting this leadership performance into context. Imagine that it is the performance of your favourite sports team! A 10%-win rate would surely lead to relegation, or defeat in the early stages of the cup competition. Ultimately, it wouldn’t look good would it? And so, would you demand that they changed the manager? Exactly!
We can help you execute and get the results you demand.