Strategy and strategic thinking have been the key factors that have determined the success of businesses ever since the Industrial revolution.
There was a point when strategy was defined as a ‘high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty’. With automation ripping across all facets of business today, uncertainty is no longer the goliath that one needs to knock down. The herculean task staring at strategists today is their ability plan for a future where paradigms keep shifting dramatically.
Executing a strategy hence has become the pinnacle of focus for business leaders. Electric motor vehicles may soon nullify the fuel war and IBM Watson is bound to make the role of a lawyer redundant. Sports mechanics has taken a different turn altogether and RPA – Robotic Process Automation has started making giant strides in the way business plans are executed.
Nature has its last laugh all the time and so are its mysterious way of teaching us some time-tested lessons. That’s what I am going to focus on in this message: Alignment
To live in unison with nature we have to Align ourselves to the twists and turns nature takes. Be it the climatic conditions, emergence of diseases or availability of natural resources.
Strategy to work well has to start and end with Alignment. The organization is like an ecosystem which has various facets within it. When all the facets don’t Align strategy will remain still. In fact it can create more damage that good. Imagine taking up a fitness regime with a goal to achieve peak health in 1 year. The various facets involved in this could be, an exercise regime, planned rest, appropriate die. If the strategy is to achieve peak health in 1 year and the diet is not aligned with it imagine the consequences. It can be disastrous and sometimes fatal.
Leaders make strategy with a lot of effort, time and money but don’t invest the same effort , time and money to get every entity within their ecosystem Aligned.
In a premier FMCG set up I worked with, the leadership team used to spend at least a month in ensuring every function within the organization and its key external stakeholders understand and accept the strategic direction. High Performance Culture was it was called, used to be series of power packed discussions, wherein the functional leads were asked to decipher the strategy, break it down into logical parts and derive an action road map to achieve the same. Hence the overall strategy had a Finance Pillar, HR Pillar, Supply Chain Pillar, Supply Pillar and a Demand Pillar and all these pillars were nothing but sub-strategies to achieve the one big strategy of the organization
Marcia Steel says, “Strategy is not about thinking about the future, it is about thinking about the future of your current decisions”. A decision to Align is the mantra to making strategies work.
My strong provocation to organizations of all size and shapes is to ensure Alignment is achieved as soon as possible, the more you delay Aligning your people to the strategy that you have defined, the more you are prone to capitulate and face a meltdown of your revenues.
Leaders must develop ways and means to ensure each functions ways of working are aligned with the overall strategy of the business. Decision making must revolve around the strategy, rewards and recognition must be centered around the strategy, performance management must be centered around the strategy, financial modelling must be designed in line with strategy, Org Design and Talent development must reflect the strategy, finally every soul walking around the corridors of the organization must know how his actions and behavior can have an impact the strategy.