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The Value of Strategic Alignment


Gary Cox is a great Quality resource in addition to being very funny! gcox@barringtongrp.ca


REFLECTION- FOR STUDENTS: “Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.”

General George S. Patton Jr.


FOR ACADEMICS: “Objectives can be compared to a compass bearing by which a ship navigates. A compass bearing is firm, but in actual navigation, a ship may veer off its course for many miles. Without a compass bearing, a ship would neither find its port nor be able to estimate the time required to get there.”

Peter Drucker


FOR PROFESSIONALS/PRACTITIONERS: “To be strategic is to concentrate on what is important, on those few objectives that can give us a comparative advantage, on what is important to us rather than others, and to plan and execute the resulting plan with determination and steadfastness.”

Richard Koch

The Goal of Strategic Alignment

Strategic Alignment refers to Alignment between Top-level Strategic plans, Tactical Plans, and Operational Plans. Without proper alignment, a lower-level effort at the Operational or Tactical level may be contributing little or nothing toward the top-level strategic business goals.


Unless an organization's business goals are being served, any tactical or operational effort could be considered waste. 90% of respondents admit that they fail to reach all their strategic goals because they don’t implement well, and 53% agree that inadequate delivery capability exposes them to competitors. That is the disturbing conclusion of research from the Economist Intelligence Unit (Brightline Project Management Institute, 2017) (TransparentChoice Ltd., 2021)


In any industry or market, some companies do better than others. Strategic alignment is often one of the key differences between organizations that perform well and those that do not. In practice, research shows that their level of strategic alignment can explain as much as 80% of the differences between organizations’ performance. (TransparentChoice Ltd., 2021)


Strategic planning (when conducted adequately across all levels of an organization) should begin at the top level. Every level of planning should trigger an evaluation of the current plan to verify every element is still aligned. The top critical management should be gathered in a cross-functional manner to prepare for strategic planning (including resource allocation for the strategic planning initiative). After the strategic planning group is ready to proceed, available resources are utilized to conduct an environmental scan of the organization at all levels to facilitate a current state determination. (Russell T. Westcott, 2014)


Next comes the Vision and Mission Statements based upon business Risks and Opportunities. Remember, a Vision Statement and Mission Statement are not interchangeable. A vision is what the organization would like to accomplish/be in the future. A Mission statement is a definition of the organization’s current purpose. Regardless of using traditional strategic planning or Hoshin Planning, the Vision Statement and Mission Statement need to be clear and agreed upon by top management. Once the Vision and Mission Statements have been agreed upon, the primary future goals for the organization are determined based upon business logic and Risk / Opportunity analysis. At this point, the Strategic goals have been selected, and we move to the Tactical level. (Russell T. Westcott, 2014)


Every organizational layer is analyzed to determine what gaps need to be closed and what requirements of each layer must be met to align the strategic goals. Tactical action plans to achieve this alignment are then drafted for each layer of the organization. (Russell T. Westcott, 2014)

The final phase of Strategic Planning and Alignment is the Operational Phase. Before further development of the plan, resource allocation must be revisited and adjusted, preferably with a well-constructed matrix showing the various types of resources required against each objective. This matrix can be as detailed as needed for sound decision-making. Many project planning software can create this type of document and run what-if scenarios to help your team determine the best allocation of your limited resources with the least conflict. The next step is deploying the tactical action plans across the organization.

I mentioned a requirement for a feedback loop when I first started describing this process. This phase might be the most crucial part of the feedback loop. It may not work correctly if your organization has not fostered a culture that allows lower-level persons to challenge the actions they are being asked to implement.


Front-line people usually know the process much better than top-level management, so feedback from front-line participants should always be heard and receive respectful answers to their challenges (without fear of retribution). (Russell T. Westcott, 2014)

After fully implementing tactical action plans, complete monitoring of the outcomes vs. the goals must be implemented. The final aspect of the plan creates a living plan when the results are reported up the entire hierarchy for progress review and adjustment as required. Strategic planning, goals, and action are aligned throughout the organization, and all goals are aligned to one vision and mission. (Russell T. Westcott, 2014)


Conclusion

Alignment is key. If the band does not play in harmony, the music of each instrument may be sweet, but the overall tune is nothing desirable to hear. Culture is a vital part of successful strategic alignment. If the front-line workers are not treated as part of the effort, they 1) …may not care if the new strategy will cost the company money, as long as they get paid. 2) …may passively or actively thwart change that is good for the company just because they feel pushed around. 3) …may tell the upper-level managers openly they are wrong and then be ignored, wasting time and money when the company had the resources the entire time to preempt such waste.


Bibliography

Brightline Project Management Institute. (2017, October 3). Closing the Gap: Designing and Delivering a Strategy that Works. Retrieved from Brightline Project Management Institute: www.brightline.org/resources/eiu-report/


Russell T. Westcott. (2014). The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.


TransparentChoice Ltd. . (2021). TransparentChoice. Retrieved from https://www.transparentchoice.com/strategic-alignment


 

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Elva A. Resendez
Elva A. Resendez
09 dic 2021

How Insightful! Particularly to the practitioners. Great information here!

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