Strategic alignment is the process of bringing an entire organisation — including various business divisions, different levels of management, diverse employee groups, and the numerous supporting systems and processes — in line with its overarching strategic objectives. It’s the process of onboarding every individual person and process to ensure that they are all striving toward a shared purpose.
At Maximus, we see organisations that know strategic alignment is important, but that struggle to achieve it. In our experience, what modern businesses struggle with is a lack of focus in their strategy.
Many businesses don’t realise that designing and auditing strategy isn’t a one-off task — it’s an intense, hands-on process that requires you to rethink the way you do business by looking at your organisation, your industry and your market. And it’s a process well worth the effort. After all, if a company can’t create and implement a clear vision, the chances of it being articulated and enabled by its staff are grim. In fact, a recent study found an astounding 70 percent of employees couldn’t identify their employer’s publicly presented corporate strategy.
Over time, many organisations lose track of their key business purpose and they find it hard to answer key questions about their business. So where do you start? While there are plenty of models and resources you can refer to, we think that the following checklist is a useful way to audit your organisation’s strategic alignment around processes, metrics and execution of the plan:
- What have you focused on to achieve process alignment in your organisation? Are the processes reinforcing the right behaviour?
- What are the most critical indicators of performance — lead and lag indicators? How are these used to focus attention and performance?
- In what areas are you investing in efficiencies? How does this relate to decisions about your core competence?
- On whom will you be dependent for the execution of this plan? Do they have sufficient incentive to do their part? Do you have to modify your reward systems to make this happen?
- What are the main assumptions on which your plan is based? Which is the most ‘risky’? (i.e. if it can go wrong, where will it go wrong?)
- How will we know if your plan is working? What indicators can we agree on, and when shall we review them?
Building a Global Mindset
Thanks to globalisation, the importance of having leaders who can bridge the cultural divide is paramount. As CEO, your aim should be twofold: to ensure you and your people have the skills and capabilities to compete on the world stage; and to build a business strategy, infrastructure and approach that make it easy to seize every chance to trade across borders. This might mean, for example, reviewing your products with overseas opportunities in mind
When conservation and leadership come together…
This exciting purpose-led partnership extends our commitment to raising awareness around protecting our planet and encouraging all corporates to play a role in supporting environmental conservation.
The Road to Strategic Alignment: Creating Line of Sight
Reaching strategic goals isn’t negotiable. It’s the reason for stakeholders and executives’ very being. It’s what business is all about. Yet according a recent study, just 53 percent of executives characterise their companies’ strategies as emphasising the creation of relative advantage over competitors; the rest say their strategies are better described as matching industry best practices and delivering operational imperatives1. In other words, just playing along.