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   Strategic Alignment

    The fact that strategic planning is not a linear process, but rather iterative in nature and requiring the consideration
    of multiple variables, increases the disquiet felt when having to tackle it. An essential part of strategic planning is
    ensuring that there is strategic alignment. In order to understand alignment, there is a need to understand systems

What is Systems Thinking?

System theory is a conceptual framework that helps us to understand ourselves and our environment. A system is a set of objects that have certain attributes, together with the relationship between the objects. Every system is, in turn, also a part of an environment (simply a larger system). A simple truth is that to think systemically is to understand that you are an interrelated, dependent part of all the larger systems within which you exist and operate. Our actions need to focus on all the related pieces of the system.

What is Strategic Alignment?

Alignment is the adjustment of an object in relation to other objects so that the arrangement can lead to the optimizing of a position or the relationship between the objects or parts. With strategic alignment, it is possible to hopefully improve performance results and gain a competitive advantage. Aligning the organization to the external environment requires forethought and taking proactive actions. Aligning employees’ performance to the strategic direction requires leadership and monitoring. Aligning different functions and resources across the organization requires integration and diplomatic handling of personalities.

How Alignment Impacts the Strategic Planning Process?

Alignment has to happen on a variety of levels. This is what brings shades of complexity into the strategic planning decision-making, as well as when implementing the strategic plan. The graphic representations of all the required alignment efforts follow.


Aligning strategy to the broader context:




Organization's Strategy 







Work team Strategy 

Organization-wide environment 


Aligning work team actions to the organization's strategy:


Shared Organization Vision 

Organization Mission 

Strategic Goals 



Work Team Vision 

Work Team Mission 

Work Team Goals 





Individual Performance Plans 

Personal Development Plans 


Aligning between work teams:


Available Resources   


Work Team 1 Strategy 


Work Team 2 Strategy 


Organization's Culture - how we need to do things around here   


Aligning the leadership:








Our Values



The strategic plan must be created against the backdrop of the organization’s values; its moral compass. These values need to lay the foundation for the accepted behaviors in the organization.


What Strategic Alignment Skills are Required:


The competencies required to ensure strategic alignment are an important inclusion into the strategy skill set that leaders in organizations need.  You will need to be able to: 

  • take a big picture perspective on problems, decisions, situations and events
  • identify key stakeholders within the organization and within the marketplace or industry with whom your team needs to interact
  • ascertain political agendas and adjust your decisions and actions accordingly
  • integrate and assimilate information
  • understand the interrelationships between issues
  • recognize causal relationships
  • be aware of the multiple effects of any actions decided upon
  • view information from different perspectives and points of view, to interpret implications, and to make appropriate recommendations
  • identify common elements or trends in situations and actions
  • ensure strategic alignment between the macro-environment and the organization
  • ensure alignment between different areas in the organization
  • appreciate the pressures that each functional group experiences in the organization and work to mitigate them
  • make decisions taking into account all the relevant variables
  • make decisions that are aligned to the organization’s needs
  • breakdown strategy into a practical performance plan to achieve it

All that gets done in an organization needs to be aligned to each other, as well as the strategy, in order to help achieve the strategic goals. Also, the implications of every action should be considered for every other part of the organizational system. In this way, the application of strategic thinking will result in strategic alignment throughout the planning and the implementation process of the strategy.




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