Misaligned Strategy and Purpose – How Companies Fail

Misaligned Strategy and Purpose – How Companies Fail
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Misaligned Strategy and Purpose
Corporate leaders agree — to win, organizations need to be sure their business strategy aligns with their greater purpose.  A misaligned strategy and purpose will create friction and dilute your ability to create a high performing team.

Creating strategic alignment sounds simple, but the challenge is in the details.

Every Move You Make Counts
As in the game of Jenga, every move you make counts. As a leader, you need to build a stable base (a meaningful company purpose) and have a thoughtful plan (a clear and compelling strategy) to keep making the right moves to build your business, not undermine it.  Here’s what we mean.

A Meaningful Purpose
In a time of great uncertainty and volatility, customers, employees, and shareholders are increasingly asking companies to take action and play an expanded role in the world.  According to research by Porter Novelli,

  • 46% of employees say they are reconsidering their current job because they feel their company is not doing enough to address social issues externally.
  • 83% of U.S. executives want to use their role as a leader to make an impact on an issue they care about.
  • 8-out-of-10 people say it’s no longer acceptable for companies just to make money; they also need to positively impact society.

Think about your organization’s fundamental purpose. What are you truly trying to achieve as a business? Your purpose is not just about increasing revenue. That’s what every business needs to do in order to stay alive.  What makes your company meaningful beyond just talking about profit at all costs?

The purpose of your business should be specific to what you do and why you exist. Its view is long-term and unchanging. The best company mission statements inspire your employees to do good work and point toward the impact on the lives of those you serve.

While the majority of people say that businesses can be a force for positive social change, only a third report that they trust business leaders to do what’s right. Sadly, only 42% of Americans report that their employer’s values match their own.  This seems like a missed opportunity when it comes to creating an committed and engaged workforce.

While not every purpose speaks to every person, here are a few examples of companies that do not have a misaligned strategy and purpose:

  • Amazon
    The largest online retailer in the world, ruthlessly follows their mission to “strive to offer customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.”  As an Amazon Prime customer I can attest that Amazon follows through on this purpose.

    Amazon makes it clear who their customers are and how they intend to improve their customers’ lives. The purpose is simple, focused, and motivational.

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
    The mission of St. Jude’s is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of their founder, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

    Accordingly, St. Jude’s recently received the #1 ranking of American brands based upon how well their purpose succeeds in inspiring consumers.  Pretty compelling.

  • LSA Global
    At LSA, our mission is to “create a competitive advantage through alignment.”  Everything we do centers around helping our clients and their people to perform at their peak.

A Clear and Compelling Strategy
Strategic clarity, the first step in getting aligned, accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  Done right, the outcomes from your strategy retreat should ruthlessly guide the choices you make about where you invest, win, and fulfill your organization’s purpose.

The key is to ensure that your company is 100% aligned behind your purpose in the way it thinks and behaves.

It should not be surprising that aligned companies and teams consistently achieve higher performance, but our recent organizational alignment research results blew us away. Based upon 410 companies across eight industries, highly aligned companies grow 58% faster and are 72% more profitable while outperforming unaligned companies in terms of customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

As a leader, you need to make sure your strategy is understood, believable, and implementable enough for your unique situation and purpose.  Then you need to make sure that your fundamental purpose is in sync with your strategy.  A misaligned strategy and purpose will cause nothing but sub standard results.

The Bottom Line
Syncing your strategy with your purpose is a smart first step to getting aligned and outperforming your competition.

To learn more how to avoid having a misaligned strategy and purpose, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy to Get Aligned

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