S³- Sustainable Strategies Segment: Strategic Alignment and Sustainability
STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT & SUSTAINABILITY
What comes to mind when you hear the word alignment? In an Instagram post last week, I discussed the importance of organizational alignment. I emphasized the significance of how our personal lives must align with the principles of God (those of us who believe and adhere to His word). When we are not intentional about lining up with God’s systems, such as His way of doing what’s right, exercising justice; our lives are misaligned and stress overtakes us. Alignment is everything! I remember being a chiropractic assistant years ago, and one thing I learned was how stress impacts the body. A few associations with stress:
Stress will cause imbalances in the body and misalignments.
Stress that is not properly released overtaxes the organs in the body causing malfunctions
Normal systems in the body no longer work well together and the body eventually stops working because the spine, the backbone central to the entire functioning of the body, is misaligned
Frequent adjustments to the body release stress and realign the spine for normal functionality.
This also applies to your business. Systems and structures fail to work effectively when misalignments exist. Alignment, proper arrangement, of organizational values, purpose, goals, objectives, and strategy brings cohesion and clarity to the strategic intent of an organization. Without clarity and cohesion, no strategy can successfully be implemented.
MIT Sloan in collaboration with the BCG (Boston Consulting Group) revealed in a 2016 report, “Investing For a Sustainable Future,” the necessity for companies to identify and analyze material issues concerning sustainability as are relevant to both their business and stakeholders; ensuring alignment into the overall corporate strategy. Investors are looking for companies to demonstrate the value of sustainability as part of a business strategy and many are stepping up to the challenge.
A 2016 survey (“Sustainability Leaders-A GlobeScan, SustainAbility Survey, in partnership with Sustainable Brands”) consisted of 907 stakeholders from business, government, NGOs and academia and 84 countries. These entities were asked to evaluate sustainability progress since 1992 and to predict their expectations over the next 20 years. These experts were also asked to identify who they felt were sustainability leaders among their peers. Unilever ranked #1 followed by Patagonia. Google ranked as the 10th sustainability global leader. This survey discovered how aligning sustainability strategy with organization culture and values as well as combining purpose through a common brand capacity were two key drivers of corporate leadership.
Alignment also enhances an organization’s ability to achieve high performance, meet objectives and gain competitive advantage. Again, this can only be accomplished through developing a good strategy. Understand something, the test of a good strategy is how it flows through the structure, and systems, and how leadership communicates the strategy. A sound strategy is supported by HR, and management in addition to the organization culture and values.
For sustainability practices to truly be adapted into the organization’s strategy, it must be embedded into the psyche of the people. Strong leadership communicates the value of sustainability repeatedly to everyone connected to the company. It becomes a recognized, respected way business is done in the organization locally, and globally. Weak, poor leadership lacks focus, clarity, is short- sighted and is reactionary to every external situation. These behaviors cause misuse of resources or underfunding tasks that ultimately lead to unfulfilled objectives. Disenchantment and confusion about the message of what the organization truly values transpire and this causes misalignment.
Final thoughts, urgent external issues, although cannot be ignored, cannot consume the leader. Trying to dot every “I” and cross every “T” can actually halt the implementation of a strategy. Here’s a prime biblical analogy. God called Moses to deliver His people out of bondage and into the promised land. This was a priority. However, a problem Moses faced was dealing with the urgent needs, external issues, of the people. He got “caught up” with individual concerns that began to burden him, causing a distraction from what he needed to stay focused on, and it eventually wore him out. It took the wisdom of his father-in-law to show him how to deal with these issues so that Moses could refocus on where he was taking his followers and reprioritize the important tasks and goals that would allow him to accomplish the strategy of delivering God’s people (Exodus 18: 19 – 21). Moses learned a lesson in strategic alignment.
●A strong organization is properly aligned like a strong body is aligned with a spiritual life.
●Leaders know how to predict, and adjust to maintain the natural flow of systems in the organization for peak performance.
●This reduces stress, distress, and distractions while keeping the organization strong and focused. Sustainability practices can be designed to complement your organization’s strategy and boost alignment. Is your business strategically aligned? We can help you assess and de-stress your organization.