Strategic Alignment: A Key Factor for Business Success
With new trends and disruptions arising every day, companies are focusing now on coming up with new innovative ideas before their competitors do. Sometimes, this is done without ensuring whether strategies, operations, people, organizational capabilities, and resources are all aligned together and directed towards the purpose for which they started their businesses.
Of course, companies do know that all of their businesses’ elements should be organized and aligned together to reach their purposes. However, some could get lost in the new trending concepts without reviewing strategies and ensuring that their employees’ behaviors and actions are directed by the company’s strategy.
Having a well-documented strategy that looks great in meetings and presentations is not enough. Company leaders and managers should make sure that the strategy is well-communicated throughout the organizations, starting from the CEO of the company to the most junior person in the company; in other words, it should be aligned vertically and horizontally.
Understanding the definition of strategic alignment
According to Hough and Liebig (2013), strategic alignment “is the process in which the formerly developed strategy is executed and cascaded throughout the organization. It includes the calibration of the organization’s culture, staff, structure and governance with the strategy.” This means that employees need to witness and become aware of their contributions to the organization’s strategy.
Having all business aspects aligned together is a fundamental state for organizational effectiveness. A common agreement about goals and processes is present in a well-aligned company which occurs at two levels: horizontally and vertically. Horizontal alignment refers to the harmonization of strategic goals and performance measures employed in the different business units. Meanwhile, vertical alignment refers to the transfer of the company’s vision and mission with certain strategic goals down the hierarchy.
Not having a strategic alignment within your business is highly costly; you could lose your key talent employees, valuable customers, resources, and time. Moreover, departments might even work in an isolated zone from the company’s road map wherein each department or entity will be working and taking decisions based on their own departmental strategies. Setting a strategy or having a strategic meeting is not a waste of time.
Brightline conducted a survey in 2017 of 100 respondents from large companies and explained that communication throughout the organization and in all directions is fundamental for strategic evolution. The survey illustrated that leaders bolster the two-way flow of information between top executives and people in the company because it is very effective in delivering strategy across the company. David Kamenetzky, Chief Strategy & External Affairs Officer at brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, explained that “Vertical communication within the business cannot fall into the trap of flowing one way—from the top, it is actually about tapping expertise throughout the organization. You have to do a certain element of consultation and even co-creation. It is about making sure the strategy is and remains right.”
So, what could be done to have a strategic alignment? Below are a few tips that could help in developing a strategic alignment within your organization:
- Revisit your strategy and make sure it is well developed and serves the main purpose of the company. The KPI Institute certified course on Strategy and Business Planning Professional can help with this issue.
- Conduct a strategy/strategic meeting that includes all relevant stakeholders (leaders, managers, seniors) for developing/updating and executing your strategy.
- Make sure that your leadership and managerial styles serve your strategy. You don’t want to have styles that block the execution of your strategy.
- Make sure that communication is clear within your organization and it flows in both directions (top-down and down-top).
- Make sure that there is coordination between departments through conducting meetings to ensure that their processes, strategies, and priorities are aligned with the company’s overall business strategy.
- Events and company meetings that gather all employees across the organization are important. Those events or meetings could remind the employees of the company’s purpose and strategy as well as their future plans, just to make sure that they are seeing the big picture of their roles.
In conclusion, strategic alignment is a crucial element for business success. Business owners should be aware of its importance and this is the most important step for executing it internally. Making sure from time to time that all your employees are aware of the firm’s main purpose, is not a waste of time. It has a direct positive impact not only on your employees but on your overall business as well.