Every business leader wants their company to be strategically aligned. It creates unity among teams and delivers a consistent, clear message of who the company is and what it stands for. Unfortunately, achieving this sort of alignment from the top down and across every facet of the organization is complicated because a lot of companies struggle with their positioning and messaging.
What is strategic business alignment?
Jonathan Trevor and Barry Varcoe do a great job of describing strategic alignment from a business perspective in a recent Harvard Business Review article:
“Strategic alignment, for us, means that all elements of a business — including the market strategy and the way the company itself is organized — are arranged in such a way as to best support the fulfillment of its long-term purpose.”
Essentially, strategic alignment is key to the ongoing success of the organization. Desiring alignment is one thing, but to actually achieve it is not as cut-and-dry. What we’ve (Catapult) found, pretty regularly, is that the companies with unclear, inconsistent, and lackluster corporate messaging are the ones struggling to align the organization around a bigger purpose and be seen as market leaders.
So, how does a company become aligned?
In our experience, strategic alignment starts with positioning and messaging. A Strategic Narrative can build a strong foundation for the external messaging strategy. When it’s effectively communicated to ALL of the stakeholders, it aligns internal teams as they work on achieving the same big goal. It also provides a clear vision for the industry and clarity on the organization’s market strategy.
Every organization can benefit from that level of alignment.
Five ways a Strategic Narrative helps align the organization:
- The strategic narrative provides consistency. When the company is aligned from its business strategy to its external messaging points, all internal parties are easily on the same page. The strategic narrative becomes the vessel in which the company’s strategy is shared and delivered. Because is it laid out as a category or framework it is consistently delivered externally and easily understood internally.
- The strategic narrative feeds into the internal communication strategy. In order for a company to adopt a strategic narrative, everyone within the organization needs to think differently. With a communication strategy in place, siloed, internal teams are brought together by the new messaging framework that defines the company’s aim for improving the industry and establishing leadership. Everyone then has the opportunity to understand their role in achieving the company’s vision for the industry.
- It allows for clear market positioning. As previously mentioned, a strategic narrative provides a framework for external messaging. But it is unique because it’s higher level than what the company “does.” Instead, it offers insight into the role the company plays in the industry, usually focusing on the company’s vision for industry advancement or improvement. This not only creates a positioning strategy where the company’s role is clearly defined, but it is a natural starting point for being seen as a leader by peers, customers and influencers.
- It differentiates the company. A lot of companies say the same things. They all offer the “best services” or the most “innovative products.” In today’s “look at me” method of differentiation, it’s hard to stand out when you sound just like the competition. A strategic narrative, on the other hand, is built to differentiate. It clearly defines the company’s role in addressing the industry megatrends, perceptions and misperceptions. It creates a message of substance – which makes the company stand out as not only a leader but a unified organization.
- The strategic narrative creates category leaders. Companies that lead markets are often category leaders. Category leaders are the most likely to be industry visionaries because they’re messaging is outward focused – on the industry. They are also likely to be strategically aligned. They know what they are trying to accomplish and everyone knows the role they play in order to achieve success.
There are a lot of variables that go into strategic alignment of a business. However, companies with a strategic narrative simplify these efforts because it is the foundation upon which the company stands and moves towards the future.
Interested in aligning your organization around a common goal that not only helps you launch a solid market strategy but makes you stand out? Look into one of our narrative-building workshops.
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