Here at TBG, we understand how important transformational business alignment and strategic development can be. But, we also know how confusing and challenging it can be for businesses to tap into these strategies. De-mystifying business buzzwords and understanding how we can harness powerful strategies with precision and a holistic, personalised approach is key.
One powerful term is ‘business alignment’. Business alignment is actually very simple once you understand it – and with a little time and attention you can quite quickly start to see positive results.
First, let’s look at the definition of alignment in business and how it can impact both the inner workings of your organisation and public impression.
What does alignment mean in business?
Similar to company culture, alignment in business occurs when every single aspect of your organisation (from your objectives and goals to day-to-day running and employee management and engagement) marry up with its purpose.
If you’ve ever worked with a company but felt something was ‘off’, or didn’t quite fit, you’ve likely experienced poor business alignment. It’s also something many of us experience as consumers – for example, huge oil companies professing to care about the environment, pharmaceutical companies suddenly promoting holistic wellness products as soon as they become popular, or chemical cleaning brands releasing clean, eco-friendly alternatives when the market turns. What this brings is a lack of trust, a feeling of inauthenticity, low confidence and confusion. These are extreme examples, but the definition of business alignment is often much more subtle and nuanced and affects every aspect of a company inside and out.
Knowing the definition of alignment in business is one thing, but putting a business alignment strategy into practice isn’t always straightforward.
Why is it important?
Authentic businesses are successful businesses. Increasingly in the digital age consumers are able to access in-depth information on a company’s inner workings, either from top-level sources and press articles or even social media posts from employees and whistle-blowers. Transparency and authenticity are major priorities for customers – and it’s now incredibly easy for them to see when a company falls short of its own values and expectations.
In the age of greenwashing a focus on strategic alignment has become even more prevalent, as more companies strive to be seen as ‘doing something’ that aligns with consumer values and objectives. But whatever your purpose may be, it has to be genuine and backed up by real ethics and actions taken within your company.
Greenwashing is a nice, easy example of poor company alignment because it clearly shows companies either straying from their purpose in favour of something more profitable or failing to fulfil their purpose and falling short. A quick Google search will reveal the number of brands who have been ‘called out’ for saying one thing, then doing another whether it’s internal issues relating to how they pay their suppliers and how they treat their employees or flimsy marketing claims and contradictory mission statements. Even if your company values don’t centre on eco-credentials, the rise of greenwashing is a cautionary tale for any business in every industry can take inspiration and lessons from when considering business alignment.
Put simply, business alignment forms firm foundations for your company – like the roots of a tree enabling your business to grow strong and tall. Get it wrong, and you may find dwindling profits, wasted resources and high staff turnover amongst key issues holding you back. When you get it right, you can develop a successful, strong company that knows itself and can clearly communicate this to potential customers and clients, too.
What does it look like?
Due to the diverse nature of individual organisations, achieving business alignment looks different for each individual company. There are short and long-term effects associated with implementing a business alignment strategy – some can be immediate, such as employee engagement and sales increases, whilst building a solid reputation and streamlining recruitment processes may take some time. Some notable benefits of business alignment include:
- Better employee engagement and staff retention
- Easier recruitment processes
- Increased sales
- Simpler decision making
- Clearer planning processes
- Clearer purpose and identity
- Enhanced reputation
- Streamlined management systems
- Greater adaptation and flexibility with growth
- Increased productivity
How can you achieve business alignment?
Achieving business alignment involves a multi-faceted and dedicated approach. It takes ongoing work to remain in alignment, but with time this becomes easier as you get clearer on your vision and goals.
Start with your vision and values. Not quite sure yet on what your purpose might be? Remember it’s not what you do, but why.
Example: Your company makes products and supplements to improve the lives of people living with type 2 diabetes (this is your mission). Your purpose, therefore, could be to improve the quality of life for people living with type 2 diabetes.
It’s easy to get distracted especially with rapidly moving markets – but be sure to remain laser-focused on your purpose, to the exclusion of absolutely anything that does not fall within it.
Example: don’t get distracted buying and selling products or services that have nothing to do with your purpose (or move you away from it).
Get clear on strategy
We talk a lot about strategy here at TBG – here, the strategy involves making decisions that work towards fulfilling your purpose. How can you ensure that alignment runs through your entire company? What strategies will help you to expand your vision in line with your purpose?
Unless business alignment initiatives run from the top-down, they’ll often be limited in terms of their effectiveness. A good example of this is a health insurance company offering health insurance for all employees and offering discounts, health initiatives and complementary treatments in line with their company values. When employees feel part of something bigger and are all striving towards your purpose whilst also benefiting from it, you develop a strong and engaged workforce.
Be smart with resources
Intelligently allocating resources (financially and in terms of time and manpower) is a key component of successful business alignment. Use company purpose as a test before making any significant investments including developmental funding, ensuring your resources are well spent in line with your vision and values. For example, your company specialises in productivity software and helping businesses to increase productivity – with this in mind, you wouldn’t buy into anything that decreases productivity within your own business.
Navigating the complex world of business development, strategy and OKR implementation can be confusing. But with our Giants by your side, we can make even the most challenging and insurmountable projects simple. Book a call today for tailored support.