Strategic Alignment

Organizations are means to achieving commercial, scientific, or technical ends that a re too complex and difficult for individuals acting alone to achieve. To be more powerful than a set of disconnected individuals, an organization must attain some degree of “alignment” among its members regarding:

  • The Strategic Goals it is committed to pursuing
  • The methods the organization intends to use to achieve these goals

Gaining alignment among top executives charged with planning implementing strategy is an important part of successful strategy execution. Typically, confusion and conflict about commitment and implementation methods can increase when the business environment is chaotic, new technologies are emerging, organizations get old, large and complex. Newly formed executive groups and those with new strategic plans may also function at less than optimal levels.

The Executive Group Alignment Process is a consulting method for promoting alignment among senior executives about their strategic plan and its implementation. The process begins with interviews and surveys of team members to assess both levels of commitment to strategic goals and perceptions of ‘strategy relevant ideas’. These are ideas about internal and organizational factors that might be important for successful strategy execution.

The research done with team members is presented in a group meeting. This initial meeting works to:

  • identify areas of strong, weak, and variable commitment to strategic goals
  • rally the team around areas of strong commitment
  • explore the underlying causes of variable commitment
  • assess the team’s motivation to increase alignment in identified areas

The process can also be used to promote alignment between organizations. For example, It has been used in the soft drink industry to forge stronger alliances between executives in a provider organization and those a fast food chain.

Alignment on Strategic Goals and How They Affect Behavior

How can we understand individual and organizational goals? Goals may be understood in two important ways: (1) the degree to which most organization members are energized to achieve goals; and (2) Specificity—the degree to which goals are stated in general or specific terms. For example, one may be committed generally to “customer focus” or more specifically to “weekly communications with strategically important customers”. At bottom, organizational energy comes from explicit agreement on general strategic goals that filters down to explicit agreement and effective actions on specific tasks essential for strategy execution.