4 Elements to Ensure Strategy Aligns Behavior

4 Elements to Ensure Strategy Aligns Behavior
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When Strategy Aligns Behavior
A clear, well understood strategy aligns behavior with the priorities of the business.

Just as a coxswain guides his crew to pull together in the same direction in a coordinated way, a clear and compelling strategy guides everyone in the organization to make the right strategic choices and behave in a way that makes sense.

Great leaders know is difficult to cross the finish line ahead of your competition if you do not work cohesively together toward a well-defined target.

When Strategy Does Not Align Behavior
Just think what can happen when a strategy is unclear, unsupported, or too far-fetched. You can have:

  • Leaders giving conflicting advice and investing in different strategic priorities
  • Marketing promoting services that do not match your roadmap
  • Sales selling products and services that cannot be serviced, delivered, or clearly differentiated from the competition
  • R&D developing products that target customers do not value
  • Legal and finance stalling sales with pricing or terms

Four Elements to Ensure Strategy Aligns Behavior
Ensure strategy aligns behavior — a strategy that is clear, succinct, easily understood, achievable, and implementable — one that employees can internalize and adapt to their specific jobs.

Our organizational alignment research found strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performance when these four elements are in sync.

  1. The What = Goal
    When strategy aligns behavior everyone knows what you want to achieve and in what time frame.  You need to define a goals and accountabilities that are specific, time-bound, and measurable. Articulate the ultimate objective that will guide the business over the next twelve to thirty-six months.

    You want every employee to have a clear line of sight to be able to contribute to what success looks like at the individual, team, and organizational levels.

  2. The Where = Domain
    When strategy aligns behavior everyone knows where will you operate, who your target customers are, and what the scope of your business is meant to be.  This is the part of the strategy where you define the boundaries, both where you will and where you will not compete. It is a combination of focusing on the ideal target customers you want and the geographies and verticals in which you will operate.

    It is your business “sweet spot” where you expect to win gracefully the majority of the time.  You want every employee to stay within this “sweet spot” and to avoid out-of-bounds investments, initiatives, and projects that do not fit.

  3. The Why = Value
    When strategy aligns behavior everyone knows your unique value proposition and competitive edge.  You need to be clear about what sets your product or service apart from the competition in the eyes of your target buyer. Think through all the possibilities — pricing, quality, convenience, selection, customer service, to name just a few.

    You want every employee to be able to succinctly describe your unique value proposition.

  4. The How = Plan
    When strategy aligns behavior everyone knows how to get from the current state to the desired state in a way that makes sense.  In order to execute your strategy in a way that makes sense, people need a road map that provides a clear and reasonable idea of how they are going to get to where they need to go.  Make sure people know their specific role, how much input they can have into the plan, how you expect them to contribute, and the support you will provide to make it happen.

    You want every employee to be able to apply the “how” to their job so that they operate according to the same principles as their leaders, managers, and co-workers.

The Bottom Line
When it comes to strategies and plans, the simpler the better. A one-page strategy map that can be cascaded throughout the organization will impact the behavior of the workforce far faster than a complicated and over-detailed strategic plan.

You know you have succeeded in cascading your strategy when your employees can clearly articulate the what, where, why, and how and are making decisions accordingly.

To learn if your strategy is clear enough, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Strategic Clarity

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