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Monday, October 25, 2021

Four Steps for Strategic Alignment

Bridging the gap between strategy development and execution is one of the biggest challenges many organizations face. Studies repeatedly show that, regardless of the quality of the strategies, companies find it difficult to successfully implement them and, therefore, to realize the competitive advantages they were aiming for. Probably the most important driver for successful strategy implementation is "strategic alignment," that is the systematic process of bringing the actions of each business unit and employee into line with the organization's strategic objectives. The challenge is to make them all work together towards a common goal, thereby improving the overall performance of the company.

Here are four steps that can help you in aligning your staff your strategy:

Start With the Company’s Mission and Vision

If your organization has a mission and/or vision statement, it’s a good place to start. You’re unlikely to identify specific or tactical goals with only this information; however, it should offer a north star in guiding the company’s purpose in the short and long term.

If your organization does not already have its own mission and vision, creating one is another strong starting place for the strategic planning process. The organization’s mission and vision provide a framework of its ultimate purpose and guide the team’s goals and activities.

Create the Strategic Plan

With a broader picture of company priorities in sight, now is the time to design a strategy for the organization’s activities to support success across teams. The process of strategic planning, goal-setting and creating roadmap action plans are outside the scope of this article, but there are scores of articles, books and courses on these topics. A few tools and frameworks for consideration include PESTEL analysis, SWOT analysis, TOWS matrix and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Whichever approach you use, be sure to include the entire organization in the process. If it’s a small team, everyone may have a hands-on role. In a larger training organization, gathering input in focus groups or providing planning updates and inviting feedback may suffice. Involving the whole team will encourage ownership of the resulting strategy and action plan, incentivizing everyone to deliver on the plan and effectively support the organization.

Share, Implement, Evaluate and Report on Progress

Now that you’ve created your strategic plan, it’s time to share it across the organization. Be sure to create audience-specific versions and messaging and to distribute the plan to the organization, the executive team, business unit leaders — and the company as a whole.

The plan should include success measures for you to monitor and report over the course of the year. Remember to create audience-specific updates, such as:

·        Biweekly inputs and internal updates for the organization.

·        A monthly dashboard for the executive team.

·        Bimonthly Lean/CI council meetings.

·        A quarterly newsletter for business unit leaders.

·        An annual infographic for all employees.

Stay Flexible, and Realign as Needed

In your regular reporting to key stakeholders, include an opportunity to check in on any change in priorities across the organization. Don’t become inflexibly attached to the annual plan; keep an agile approach, and adjust goals and activities to maintain alignment with company success.

Aligning business units and staff members with the organization's strategy is not a one-time deal but an ongoing process that requires constant leadership, communication, and monitoring. Moreover, it requires diplomatic skills in dealing with different types of personalities. This requires sure instincts and good change management. Strategic alignment is not an easy task particularly in large companies. However, it is indispensable in order to walk the chosen path successfully.

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