Your company strategy is like the steering wheel of a car.
The steering wheel controls the car, but if the wheels get out of alignment, keeping things headed in the right direction can be difficult. So, periodic alignment of the wheels is necessary.
When the wheels are aligned, your car will take you from point A to point B as smoothly as possible, without going off track.
The same is true with your business and its goals. Your overall company strategy is like that steering wheel. It must control the direction in which your organization is headed. But, just like a car's wheels sometimes get out of alignment and make navigation harder than it needs to be, so too your business sometimes needs strategic alignment.
Periodic strategic alignment keeps your business heading in the right direction.
Why Alignment is Necessary
Think back to when you started your business. Everyone was on board with what the company was about and where you planned to take it. Since then, however, things have changed.
Technology, your company structure, the economy, your competition, and your employees may all be different than when you started. While your vision remains clear about your ultimate destination, does the rest of your organization know where you are headed?
If you are not sure, you are not alone. According to Forbes' "Strategy 101: It's All About Alignment", 65 percent of organizations have an agreed-upon strategy.
However, only 14 percent of employees understand the strategy, and a mere 10 percent of all organizations successfully execute it.
Obviously, there is some room for improvement. To gain a competitive edge and get your organization back on the road you have chosen, it is time to do some strategic alignment.
What Alignment Involves
Alignment consists of a few basic components: developing an overarching strategy, communicating that strategy effectively, and aligning business processes and resources with it.
Developing a Strategy
Because the business environment is constantly changing, the strategy with which you started may not be the strategy that will have the best success today. Therefore, you must first align your strategy with the realities of your position. At a bare minimum, you should be asking these two questions:
- What do my customers want?
- What product or service am I offering?
If the answers to those questions are different, then adjustments must be made in either your offering or your target audience. Alignment between what you offer and what your customers want is the first essential element to ensure future business growth.
Aligning Your People Resources through Effective Communication of Your Strategy
Once you have developed a strategy that aligns customer needs with your offerings, it is essential to craft a cohesive message to communicate your strategy to your employees.
It is easy to fall into the trap of merely providing employees with bits and pieces of the puzzle that relate to their particular job description and nothing more. However, this does nothing to infuse your strategy. Rather, by compartmentalizing your employees, misalignment will almost always occur.
Tying individual job descriptions into the bigger picture of how each job contributes to the overarching goals of your organization enables employees to understand how the everyday tasks they perform make an impact.
Communication of this sort must come from the top and trickle down through every level of your organization. Your message must be consistent and constant. Think of your strategy as true north and your communication as the compass that points there at all times.
Aligning Business Processes with Your Strategy
Looking at your business processes, are there areas where outdated methodologies are derailing your strategy?
Processes that run counter to your stated objectives must be either scrapped entirely or re-tooled to more closely achieve your desired results.
For instance, since technology continues to advance, it may be necessary to upgrade to newer technologies which may eliminate redundancies and improve efficiencies in your business processes.
Aligning Other Resources with Your Strategy
Your strategy should also inform all your decisions regarding resource allocation.
One reason is that this sends a clear and consistent message to your employees that you are invested in your strategy.
Another reason is that your resources are valuable. Organizations that waste resources on projects that are tangential to their stated objectives rarely see a positive ROI for their efforts. To remain competitive, your resource allocation must be focused on and driven by your company objectives.
The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning notes about resource allocation: "The important thing is that you do not bite off more than you can chew. In almost all instances, it is better to complete a few key projects and reap the rewards than it is to start many projects and bring none of them to the point of payback. Once you have considered the resource load suggested by your implementation plan and the resource capacity of the entire operation, make the choices necessary to ensure that you will see some benefits in a reasonable amount of time."
Strategic alignment enables your team to work collaboratively toward a common goal.
Marketing and Strategic Alignment
To align with pre-determined overall company objectives, your marketing strategy must be focused on measuring the effectiveness of campaigns and tweaking them to achieve the desired result.
In the world of digital marketing, much thought must be put into deciding which digital platforms to pursue to reach your target audience most effectively. All of these decisions must align with where you want your organization to go, and how you want it to get there.