These days organizations operate in a dynamic and fast changing environment which makes formulating a consistent strategy a challenging task and executing that strategy even more difficult. More than half of organizations surveyed in previous economic studies indicated that they have not been successful at executing strategic initiatives. Moreover, a majority of organizations face problems when executing their strategic vision.
In an environment where competition and globalization of markets is intensifying, managing and surviving change becomes increasingly important. A business strategy determines the decisions and course of action that businesses take to achieve competitive advantage and is therefore crucial to survive change. Nonetheless, several economic studies indicated that many organizations fail to implement strategic alternatives. Therefore, it is important to know more about the reasons underlying the difficulties of organizations to reach strategic alignment.
Organizations develop and implement strategies to achieve (strategic) goals. The development of a strategy is about formulating what should be changed to evolve from the current situation to the desired future state. Strategy implementation is about translating the strategic plans into clear actions to execute the strategy. Strategic alignment is the ability to create a fit or synergy between the position of the organization within the environment (business) and the design of the appropriate business processes, resources and capabilities (IT) to support the execution. Strategic alignment cannot be reached when strategy development is considered to be a separate process from strategy implementation. Strategy development and strategy implementation are intertwined processes which both need to be successful for superior firm performance.
The way how organizations move from strategy development to strategy implementation is influenced by many factors. Consequently, strategic alignment is influenced by several factors which all contribute to the successful development and implementation of a strategy. We distinguish three categories in which several factors are combined that influence strategic alignment. How organizations manage the factors within these three categories determine whether they are able to reach strategic alignment or not. These three categories are:
- Culture and shared beliefs: the collective thoughts and actions of employees towards the strategic orientation of the organization determine whether strategy implementation will be successful or not. Consequently, all the employees must be clear on the what, why, when and how of the strategy. According to previous studies the inability of management to overcome resistance to change is an important obstacle to strategy execution.
- Organizational capabilities: capabilities, resources, systems and processes should be aligned with the strategy to be able to execute the strategy properly. An organization needs to consider their existing and needed capabilities and resources during strategy development and implementation. Strategic change gets obstructed when long-term strategic goals are not translated to short-term objectives or actions.
- Communication: creating understanding throughout the organization about the strategy, like why it is developed and how it is implemented, is essential for developing and implementing a strategy. There should be a clear definition of purpose, values and behaviors to guide the implementation process. A poor or vague strategy makes it nearly impossible to successfully execute a strategy which makes it a killer of strategy implementation.
Strategic Alignment Survey
In order to gain a better understanding of the strategic alignment efforts of individual organizations, BiZZdesign has created a Strategic Alignment survey. We want to understand more about the way in which organizations move from strategy development to strategy implementation. The information gathered from this survey contributes to the work done on improving strategic alignment within organizations. We would like to learn from your organization’s experiences regarding strategy development and implementation and its efforts towards strategic alignment. For this reason we kindly ask you to fill in the survey: http://alignment-eng.enquete.com/.
BiZZdesign (along with our partners The Open Group, NAF and the University of Twente) would be grateful if you could complete this Strategic Alignment survey to help us get a better understanding of the strategic alignment efforts of organizations.
The survey will be available on-line until the end of June 2014. All results will be analysed and reported in an anonymous way.
The results of this survey will then be published in a White Paper by The Open Group. If you leave us your contact email, then you will also receive the e-book ‘Strategizer – The Method’, in which initial results on strategic alignment are documented, and you have a chance to win a book voucher worth €200.
We really appreciate your time and effort. Thank you in advance.
Henry Franken M.Sc. Ph.D, is CEO of BiZZdesign and chair of The ArchiMate Forum at The Open Group. Henry is a speaker at many conferences. Henry has co-authored several international journal and conference publications and Open Group whitepapers.
At BiZZdesign, Henry is also responsible for research and innovation. Alignment with and contribution to open standards are key. BiZZdesign has contributed to and edited the ArchiMate 2 specification. BiZZdesign is involved in the workgroup working towards the next version of TOGAF® and its further hand-in-pocket alignment with ArchiMate®.
BiZZdesign offers native tooling, certification training and consultancy for TOGAF® and ArchiMate®, both standards of The Open Group. BiZZdesign offers complete and integrated solutions (tools, methods, consultancy and training) to design and improve organizations. Business models, enterprise architecture, business requirements management and process business analysis and management are important ingredients in the solutions.
“Strategic alignment is the ability to create a fit or synergy between…”
Strategy alignment looks to me more like an activity rather than an ability.
“Strategy implementation is about translating the strategic plans into clear actions to execute the strategy”.
Right, and that means cascading the strategy to the EA tiers (people, processes, technology) in the first place. And “people” include organization and culture. Is that what is it all about?
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