Alignment: How Executive Leaders Implement Strategy Successfully [Execution Drivers Series | 1 of 4]

By Paige Pulaski Jones

Alignment: How Executive Leaders Implement Strategy Successfully

Alignment: How Executive Leaders Implement Strategy Successfully

[Execution Drivers Series | 1 of 4]

Last year, organizations spent more than $30 billion on strategy consulting. We’ve all read the statistics; everyone from McKinsey to Harvard states that most strategies (somewhere in the ballpark of 70-90%) won’t achieve the intended plan execution results. That means businesses are wasting close to $25 billion a year on strategy consulting, not to mention the additional costs of lost revenue and time in the market.

To accelerate execution, and move from a reactive organization to a proactive one, strategy leaders need to develop a system that enables these four execution drivers within their organization: Alignment, Visibility, Accountability and Collaboration. We’ll explore each of these objectives in our Execution Drivers blog series, and you can download our guide, Four Drivers of Strategy Execution for more insights.

Why Do Organizations Need Alignment?

Do your front-line employees understand how the projects they work on day-to-day drive strategic initiatives and impact the organization overall?

To drive alignment, your employees and leaders first need to know what the goals and major initiatives are. They need to see the plan and see how their initiatives align to it. They need access to the strategy. The need for visibility has been well-documented. A Harvard Business Review study found that fewer than 33% of senior executives’ direct reports clearly understand the connection between corporate priorities and the projects they’re actually working on, and only 16% of frontline supervisors and team leaders do.

In an MIT survey of more than 11,000 senior managers, only about one-third could name their company’s top three goals and, “even given five tries, only about 50% could agree on the same one priority.” This is still a more optimistic conclusion than that of Palladium Group, which found that 95% of employees don’t know what their organization’s strategy is. Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise – most companies only give strategic plan access to 42% of managers.

Alignment means you’re working on the right things: the activities that move the needles on the most important initiatives and metrics for your organization. Everyone in the organization (employees, managers, executives) understands how the initiatives they’re working on align to the larger strategic plan. Alignment creates a sense of urgency and purpose, as well as a sense of ownership in the overall results of the organization’s goals. It also ensures everyone is moving in the same direction, working together to move the organization forward.

How to Make Alignment Easily Accessible in Plan Execution

It’s easy for employees to get heads-down in day-to-day work and forget the big picture. This is more likely to happen in organizations where employees never know how their work supports bigger picture initiatives. An execution platform can make this alignment clear by showing the visual roll-up of smaller initiatives to the larger strategies they support.

This visual alignment helps employees see how their individual work impacts the progress of the organization as a whole. It also helps put leadership decisions in context, making employees feel more connected and engaged with the strategy.

Want More?

Download the guide on how to overcome other common plan execution problems by working on alignment and the other three drivers of strategy execution, or read more in our Execution Drivers blog series. Check out our resource library for more tips to help align performance to organizational objectives, combine all information in one place and communicate a path to success.

For the second part in this blog series, read about how visibility enables better plan execution.