Strategy & Alignment

Organizations exist for a purpose. To fulfill that purpose, it is critical to develop a clear and compelling vision of the future and targeted business strategy. Differentiations in organizational performance between businesses with similar purposes can be largely attributed to varying degrees of alignment with the organizational vision and resulting business strategy.

For example, two businesses may share the objective of reducing costs. However, each may have a distinct vision of the future and develop different business strategies. One organization may pursue cost reduction through a focus on decreasing material and labor costs, while the other pursues cost reduction through quality improvement and a reduction of nonvalue-added activities throughout the business. Even if both organizations achieve their cost reduction objectives, the way people think about things, the priorities people set, the choices people make about options, and the way they solve problems will be very different.

The development of an appropriate business strategy makes a great deal of difference in the organizational climate. A strategy can be much more then words on paper - it can bring an organization to life. Breakthrough organizations transform the business strategy into business imperatives that lead to the establishment of appropriate measures throughout the organization. Employees are involved in translating these business imperatives into measures and resulting improvement efforts at the departmental and work unit level. Workers in every department are clear about what the key priorities are and how what they do either supports or hinders the strategy of their work unit, department, and ultimately, the organization.

When pulled from the customer, a business strategy helps align organizational energy and decreases the potential for groups or individuals to unknowingly work at cross-purposes. When employees are involved in targeting improvement goals and redesigning work to better support the business strategy, the strategy ceases to be a document that gets filed away somewhere and comes to life in daily operations. People begin to think differently; to ask new questions; to try things that are innovative; and to work together for a common purpose.


Many organization are full of energy. Why then are so many businesses unable to harness the available energy and direct it toward a common purpose? 

Have you ever spent a great deal of energy completing what you thought was an important activity to find that either someone else has been working on the same thing or worse yet, others have been making decisions and solving problems in ways that actually work against what you have been trying to accomplish? This is a common problem that is largely due to a lack of alignment in the organization.

Organizational alignment can be thought of as the effect of a large magnet pulling all energy - all activities and behaviors - toward the same end. Alignment directs efforts toward compelling goals and objectives in a way that not only creates an aggregate effect, but actually produces a synergistic reaction in which the sum is greater than the total of its parts.

Common symptoms of organizations where there is a lack of alignment include people feeling frustrated with their work due to a general lack of purpose and connection with the customer; inconsistent and inadequate sharing of information within and between departments; ever- changing priorities yielding confused and half-hearted efforts; little sense of accomplishment, even when tasks or projects are successfully completed; duplicated efforts and a great deal of rework; a high percentage of nonvalue- added activity; and a general lack of cohesion and teamwork.

Through the process of organizational alignment, a clear business strategy and measurable business imperatives are developed. Every department or group can then be involved in setting specific improvement goals relative to the work they do. Each group is measured on an ongoing basis to ensure progress toward the departmental objectives that support the organization's business imperatives.

Synergy is created when energy is aligned. Organizational learning and innovation increase, while nonvalue-added work and waste are minimized. The climate shifts to one of cohesion, trust, and innovation.