A recent study revealed that a staggering 95 percent of a typical workforce had no idea what their company strategy even was.
Only 10 percent of businesses successfully execute their strategy, leaving 90 percent of businesses struggling to align their strategy with action. Is your company or business a part of that struggling 90 percent? Chances are, it is, which leads to the question: Do you have the right measures in place to distinguish yourself from the majority?
As a leader, you may have some great ideas that seem to be a guaranteed road to success, but if your team doesn’t understand where you’re going or your investors aren’t seeing any actionable progress, your strategy may lead your business on a road to nowhere. This misalignment derails innovative projects and fails to create practical goals.
How do you create goals in an actionable manner? If you’re failing to align, where do you start? When your business is part of the dreaded 90 percent experiencing fundamental misalignment, it’s time to put some elbow grease into your strategic planning.
Creating Alignment Across the Board
When you consider innovative alignment, it’s important to introspect before assigning blame for the misalignment to the team. If you think you’ve identified where misalignment may be cropping up, do you have the ability and empowerment to implement a remedy? Or is the misalignment starting from the top level? The reality is that you, as a leader, may be in need of an alignment journey. Innovative alignment starts at the top and works its way down. Every single member of a team needs to know what goals they are working toward, and they must see the company’s vision and believe in achieving key milestones.
Start by defining your team’s vision, establishing your company’s mission statement, and verifying that each team member understands their role. As an innovative leader, you may have a profitable idea that initially attracts investors, but without a sustainable business model and clearly defined goals, your chances of long-term success are slim.
You may also be missing out on prime opportunities. Bill Gates urged Microsoft to create a product that would prevent Apple’s iPhone from monopolizing the smartphone industry, but because of a misalignment between senior executives, Microsoft’s product never came to fruition.
The first step in creating alignment across the board is getting everyone in the same room. Lay out your company’s strategy, vision, and mission statement, and ask everyone if they understand. Talk with your team. Encourage them to ask questions. And make sure the company’s mission statement aligns with the company’s overarching corporate strategy.
The S.M.A.R.T. Way to Define Success
Business leaders often believe that they have a clear depiction of what success means for their company. But with only 20 percent of companies remaining open past the 15-year mark, it’s worth asking if your company genuinely understands what it will take to be truly successful. This starts with defining success and integrating S.M.A.R.T. criteria into your team’s overarching goals. At this point, leaders must focus on small and actionable goals. Research shows that teams with a specific and challenging goal almost always outperform those with the “do your best” goal. Not only does this improve motivation, but it adds a quantifiable metric to your strategy playbook.
Establishing a general goal everyone agrees on is an important first step, but creating specific and measurable goals allows companies to build that essential trust and alignment with investors. If you’re a company experiencing an acquisition or navigating a new environment, you must build a solid relationship with your board by asking questions. Focus less on maintaining a “polished” look and more on understanding the details of what it will take for your company to achieve innovative success. As you build a strong foundation with your investors, they’ll gradually give you more freedom to see what you can achieve, but this newfound freedom is completely reliant upon hitting growth marks and achieving noticeable results.
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Executing Goals in an Actionable Manner
You may think you’ve successfully established a team that understands the company’s mission and goals. But in reality, there’s a high probability your team is not a part of the rare 5 percent of workforces that fully comprehend their company’s strategy. When thinking about innovative alignment, an honest look at your company’s inner workings is a crucial first step. Communication and measurement are key in creating and maintaining alignment within a company.
Let’s say your company focuses on client success, and you’ve recently released an innovative product that has been highly profitable. However, your customer support team is handling numerous bugs and complaints, and because they’re not appropriately staffed and have undefined goals, they’re unable to resolve problems in a timely manner.
In these situations, innovation doesn’t end after a successful product release. Innovative alignment is a continuous process that relies on consistent evaluations and clear communication with team members and investors. And sometimes, this requires getting everyone back in the room and laying out the company’s strategy, vision, and mission statement once again.
If you look at any successful company, you will find alignment throughout the entire team, and this often takes time and intention. This is best achieved by defining your company’s metrics, goals, and growth expectations generally and granularly and by ensuring that your team has specific yet challenging targets to work toward. As you write your company playbook and work with your investors, constant communication and transparency are critical for reaching company alignment and becoming one of the 10 percent of companies that successfully execute on its strategy.