Business owner, “I feel that I am guiding the ship one way, but in reality, the ship is going in another direction.”
Another business owner, “I feel that I am driving the car, holding on the wheel, but there is no car—it’s driving itself somewhere else.”
Get the point?
Business Strategy misalignment is subtle and sometimes difficult to spot. Yet without a properly aligned business strategy, you are likely to introduce a serious dose of chaos into the organizational environment.
Your business (or corporate) strategy is the blend of strategic goals that support the mission and vision of an organization. When a corporate strategy is aligned, the key outcomes (strategic goals) of the organization are in sync with operations and execution tactics. In other words, all parts of the organization’s eco-system (the sum of internal and external functions of an organization’s environment) are moving in the same well-defined direction. When strategy is misaligned, operational initiatives are out of sync with the strategic goals of the organization, mission drift occurs within the operations of the business.
It is critically important to identify strategic misalignment early since misalignment can lead to chaotic reactions. Uncorrected, problems compound quickly and lead to serious issues within the organization. Therefore, working with a business coach and/or mentor can really help your business. They see it from a different point of view and get you to see the misalignment in your business.
How do you know if your business strategy is aligned?
Look for these symptoms of Business Strategy Misalignment:
Financial Projections are Missed:
While missed projections can be traced back to an array of different issues, often the root cause is strategic misalignment. Why? Remember that strategy alignment is the union between operations/execution and strategy. If misaligned, you can imagine the types of non-strategic efforts that can occur at a grass roots level in the organization as managers and workers attempt to find their own direction. Over time you’ll find deadlines are not met within operations, product launches or service lines are delayed, and all of this directly impacts projected revenue streams.
Growth is Stalled:
When organizations begin to misfire due to misalignment, initiatives required to support and sustain profitable growth get into trouble. It’s not that the leadership and rank-and-file employees don’t want to see growth occur. It is that, despite their best intentions, they cannot sufficiently coordinate efforts on their own to right the ship. Unfortunately, spotting this symptom is difficult in situations where governance is already lax or missing altogether. This is why the leader of the business must have an open dialogue with their employees. Righting the course of the business requires the efforts of all parts of the organization, but they must be working in concert together to do it. Such a feat requires the ability to align strategy and execution through and through.
Reactive Spending and Duplicated Initiatives Occur:
When strategy is misaligned, company divisions can drift into a self-directed mode that stray further and further from corporate goals. Reactive spending and duplicity of initiatives might occur as a result of trying to increase sales but spending redundant money. These unsynchronized activities begin to impact each other, and desperation sets in, creating a vicious cycle of time and resources being consumed. I.E. Paying a marketing company to do Pay Per Click ads for you (PPC), and then doing your own PPC ads.
Cultural Erosion and Morale Problems Appear:
We’ve already mentioned the chaos that occurs with strategy misalignment. This chaos takes a toll on leaders and workers of the organization who share in a profound dislike of organizational chaos. As a result, morale suffers. If you notice an erosion of the corporate culture and morale problems, consider that your strategy may be misaligned. If your employees do not understand your culture, then your morale has already decreased. It is the leader’s responsibility to maintain the culture of the business and keep it moving forward.
Revenue and/or Profitability Decline:
The bottom-line impact of strategy misalignment inevitably falls to the bottom line. While revenue and profitability can decrease for a variety of reasons, most of these reasons trace back to misalignment. Profitability suffers as a result of any of the symptoms presented here, such as when new services or products are delayed in roll-out because the initiatives to bring them to market are unsuccessful.
How to Address Strategy Misalignment:
Just as it takes time and effort to see results from strategy, re-instilling strategy alignment and correcting misalignment requires time, work and discipline. The situation didn’t occur overnight and won’t disappear overnight either.
Look at your strategy, get a team of random employees, bring in an outside party (business coach/consultant), then lay out where the business is and to have them provide you input on what areas of the business are in misalignment.