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Strategy Alignment and Communication
Why do both public and private organizations have so much difficulty working aligned towards achieving common goals? What barriers exist? How can we overcome them?
Over the last decade, the members of the Strategy Management Collaborative have worked with countless organizations large and small, for profit and mission driven organizations in the implementation of strategic management models. We can say with great confidence that one of the main drivers of these projects, if not the main one, is the need for alignment.
Alignment is certainly a broad concept, and is used in different contexts to mean different situations. We mean that in organizations, both leaders and middle managers tend to work better in their own space, their own group of close associates in their area, department or division. In larger organizations, in their own country, region... priorities are often difficult to understand or to share in relation to "the vision" of what is important, what are the priorities, where are we going to focus our efforts and financial and human resources.
Professors Kaplan and Norton presented in their book "Alignment" a very interesting alternative approach on how to attack this problem of alignment, clearly establishing the role and responsibility of the corporate functions.
They state that the alignment of an organization is not so much defined by the type of structure adopted to operate, but defined on the organizations alignment system, which can dynamically generate alignment, so that eventually they can reach results.
This alignment system has multiple aspects:
- Aligning the Organization: how the organization deploys its strategic objectives from the leaders shared vision and a clear value proposition driven by a set of corporate values. Both vertically, which is more common, as well as the horizontal alignment between the areas, which is generally more challenging.
- Process alignment: how do we identify from a strategy, those critical processes that support that strategy and indicate the priority for our quality systems, our investments in process improvement and automation. It allows us to align strategy with operations.
- Aligning People: how to make sure our team knows the strategy, how to leverage the initiatives, ideas and operational focus of people on the priorities of the organization to achieve results. It also allows us to identify the skills needed in order to align the recruitment, assessment and development processes to the strategic objectives.