You are here

Understanding Strategic Alignment [5 minutes]

Published 28th September 2016 by Thomas Bale
Culture Header

Strategic Alignment is a process of ensuring all aspects of your organisation are aligned with realisation of strategy. [5 minute guide]

This means that operationally the business is able to deliver its 'mission'. Strategically the management of the business is able to deliver its ‘vision’. It’s the glue for any Outperforming team.

Strategic alignment enables high performance by optimising the contributions of people, processes, and inputs to the realisation of measurable objectives. This, in turn, minimises waste and misdirection resources and effort to unintended or unclear purposes. 

Symptoms of misalignment:

  • Performance issues such as the team isn’t stepping up to the size of the opportunity.
  • The organisation can’t seem to scale beyond the founder, resulting in a bottleneck to growth and execution. This is very common for SMEs.
  • Leaders within the organisation can’t say “no” to various opportunities and therefore isn’t committed to a clear and purposeful strategy.
  • There is no clear purpose as to why the organisation exists.
  • The organisation is highly inefficient and takes too much energy and effort to make simple decisions and get work done.

Powerful questions for leaders and managers

  • Do you struggle to focus on priorities as a business?
  • Why does your organisation exist?
  • What is the purpose of your business?
  • As a leader, do you feel confident stepping back from the business, to leave the day to day running to colleagues?
  • Do you have the right skills in the business?

How does Investors in People improve Strategic Alignment?

The sixth generation Investors in People Standard explores the alignment of people to the wider ambition of the business.

  1. Organisational ambition is at the heart of the framework and the assessment approach
  2. The unique ‘Performance Model’, particularly at Advanced and High Performing levels, looks for alignment of people, and people practices, to organisational outcomes. This is considered ‘Strategic Alignment’, and is a feature of highly effective organisations
  3. The 9 indicators cover the key components of high performing teams including leadership, external focus and individual support
  4. The IIP40 question set tests the alignment of each individual to the wider ambition of the business, through the lens of the indicators
  5. The recommendations from an IIP assessment will directly contribute to improved alignment and impact

Further reading

Read more about how the Investors in People reporting measures alignment

United States Office of Personnel Management's overview of strategic alignment in the context of human capital management

ARMA International's discussion of strategic alignment in the context of records and information management, July/August 2007

Articles on strategic alignment provided by Resource Management Systems, Inc.

Strategy 101: It's All About Alignment, Forbes, October 16, 2012

Strategic alignment of business processes, E. D. Morrison, A. K. Ghose, H. K. Dam, K. G. Hinge, K. Hoesch-Klohe, University of Wollongong, December 5, 2011

The Case for Strategic Alignment, white paper by The Knowledge Compass, Inc.

What is strategic alignment? definition and meaning, BusinessDictonary.com

What is Strategic Alignment?, Advance! Business Consulting