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Article -> Steps to Achieve Strategic Alignment

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Date Added: February 2008

January’s article introduced five resolutions to generate sustainable organizational growth. Strategy is the first needing further discussion.
 
Strategy can be uncomplicated once a good process is created, yet 89 percent of leaders do not believe strategic planning is worth the effort. Like any process, the more it’s done, the better the process becomes. This is what the remaining 11 percent of leaders realized.
 
For simplicity, think of strategy as the following steps:
1.      Prioritization. Organizations consist of many core elements – financials, marketing, operations, employees, R&D, etc. While all     are important, some must be prioritized so company-wide goals can be created.
2.      Alignment. Engage first, second and sometimes third levels of leaders – across all functional areas. As goals are created, gain feedback from non-leaders as they are typically responsible for completing these. Only 14 percent of organizations incorporate all levels of employee feedback into strategic planning.
3.      Communication. Effectively communicate to everyone. People prefer to receive communication from their direct leader, rather than the CEO, so appropriately cascade communication throughout the organization.
4.      Implementation. Relentless execution is vital. If not implemented well, the best strategy becomes worthless. Done well, many CEOs state their organization is much further ahead of their competitors.
 
Many believe CEOs are responsible for these four steps. CEOs are responsible for leading this process – specifically the prioritization (step #1) and possibly the alignment (step #2) – yet a separate individual should lead communication and implementation (steps #3 and #4).
 
CEOs are responsible for the strategy itself and helping drive the organization forward. They need a key individual to lead strategic deployment – someone with skills and experience to help develop strategy, and communicate and execute it effectively to drive organizational change; thereby achieving sustainable growth.
 
These four steps begin as a thin horizontal line across an organization. As the process moves through each step, the line becomes wider. At the end of the process, the horizontal line becomes so wide, it is now vertical – stretching down the entire organization.
 
As the strategy is developed and executed, it will consist of multiple goals and tactics. These directly relate to the other four resolutions: People/employees, Customers and marketing, Quality and service, and Revenue and income.
 
While several organizational leaders have requested I discuss all resolutions in one article, due to space constraints, patience is a virtue. Future articles will address the other resolutions. Since achieving sustainable growth consists of moderate growth over a long time period (i.e. patience), strategy is the initial step.
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