October 2020
2 minutes

Strategic Alignment

The key to cohesion and direction in change

The strategy work of the future must ensure strategic alignment in the right areas at the right time and touch-points. (Image: Love Lego/shutterstock.com)
“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” (Jack Welsh)

Changing direction with a fleet on rough seas and staying on course with a coordinated route in a storm is a real challenge. "Alignment" is the key: it is about orchestrating the experience, intelligence and activities of many people in such a way that the right change is initiated and the group sails together in a coordinated direction. And all of this in increasingly complex organizational structures with contradictory goals that change in shorter cycles than usual. Without these planned alignment processes, things will diverge: a lot of activities will be initiated, but will not be put on the road effectively or efficiently.

The strategy work of the future must ensure strategic alignment in the right areas at the right time and touch-points. Which elements help in practice?

1. Clarity on the Objective

Create transparency and clarity about what is to be achieved and what it means for the individual. The objective that is known and comprehensible to all people involved builds the fundament that makes a difference.

2. Dialogue and targeted collaboration

Ensure intensive dialogue and collaboration both horizontally and vertically at the critical transition points in the strategy process: especially between the phases of analysis, development and formulation. Ensure that the market view and the "internal" view (e. g. R&D, HR, ...) are coordinated at the right points in the process.  

3. From insight to action

Enable collective evaluation, insight and decision-making. Prevent too long analysis phases and promote everything that leads to action.

4. Robust methodology

With a well thought-out, robust methodology, your team can concentrate on the content-wise discussion and does not have to worry about the methodology. The work results should always be connectable and should be further developed by all participants.

5. Clear process-oriented guidance

Make sure that your team feels confident in the process. Those involved should always know where they currently are in the process. The resulting tasks should ultimately be anchored as clear responsibilities.

6. Integration is more important than deep drilling

Establish a consistent and comprehensible connection between your strategies, objectives, planning and implementation. A high flight altitude is preferable to a too low level of detail. The motto must be: "Better approximately right than precisely wrong".

Strategic Alignment aims at coordinating the right topics at the right time in the right constellation. The aim is to evaluate these together and get it to a decision and corresponding action. This can only be achieved by specifically increasing the density of the network within the organization with a well thought-out methodology and along a functioning process.

This is, among other things, painful management work that must be actively planned and mastered - but it pays off: the resulting side effects generate competitive advantages in the long term. In this way, we create stability for the employees and create the conditions for collective learning. At the same time, we create a momentum and foster efficiency in implementation that we urgently need in times of high market dynamics.

There is no question of the need for digital support to accomplish the tasks outlined above. A modern and integrated software platform is not an option, but a basic prerequisite for getting right and good strategic alignment to reality.

Your Ronald Herse

As part of our 4-part series Strategic Management 4.0, the next article examines the topic of "individualization".

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