energizing breakthrough performance

It’s Time to Fire Dilbert: Towards Dynamic Strategic Alignment

As more organizations grant themselves permission to think strategically, the oft-heard question becomes what makes for good strategy? Part of the answer is that good strategy is aligned strategy. While formulation of a single strategy can be relatively straightforward, the trick and problem is that a strategy does not exist by itself, just as no man is an island. A strategy must share resources with other strategies, hanging together in harmony with the balance of an organization’s strategic plan. Examples of organizations that have invested considerable time, effort, and money into developing a strategic plan that then collapsed of its own weight or otherwise faded into oblivion are legion. Why so many failures? You guessed it. Many planning failures can be attributed to a lack of alignment.

One more time, what exactly is alignment? There is no one firm answer, let alone a "final" one, but I offer an evolving definition of alignment that emerges from today’s reading, thinking, and working with both private and federal agency clients. Alignment is:

  • Strategic Sufficiency, meaning that we have consciously planned to exploit our internal strengths, compensate our existing weaknesses, and achieve goodness of fit among our efforts and with the efforts of our customers, partners, and stakeholders.
  • Strategic Comprehensiveness and Comprehensibility, meaning that our plan covers all the necessary bases and it makes sufficient sense so that staff can implement it without a lot of mystical guesswork.
  • Solid Strategic Joints, meaning that we have identified and agreed upon coordination steps with other offices/units in the organization that are outside of one’s immediate control but whose contributions are needed for plan implementation
  • Strategic Traceability, meaning that goals, objectives, and strategies attach to live offices and individuals: Everyone can eventually understand their contributory roles relative to the plan’s multiple objectives and strategies. Traceability refers to the future measurability of the plan and the tracking, performance feedback and correction/replanning cycle that will need to follow in the interests of accountability.

Each of these four alignment components is discussed on the following pages.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7