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We’ve all heard the many clichés describing when segments and teams within an organization are aligned in their goals and strategy: “We’re all in this together,” “we’re on the same page,” “we’re rowing in the same direction.” And there are plenty more.
Since we all realize that achieving alignment in a common goal is critical to the success of any group endeavor, why is this so hard to achieve?
Several recent business headlines point to one area where this is all too common: the misalignment executing enterprise-wide strategy and Line-of Business (LOB) priorities.
Alignment between strategic direction and operational tactics is crucial to any successful organization and requires strong leadership from the top and commitment from all LOB functions. Lack of strategic alignment is a recipe for disaster. Consider Facebook: the social media giant ran into problems when a third party improperly gained access to the data of millions of users – the strategic objectives of reputation and growth conflicted with LOB objective of maximizing revenue. Wells Fargo experienced a similar conflict between reputation and LOB revenue maximization when employees opened millions of accounts without the permission of customers. On April 12, 2018, Starbucks offered another example of the damage towards achieving strategic goals caused by a LOB policy decision to remove guests that sat down at a table waiting for a friend without purchasing anything.
I define strategic alignment as an in-depth knowledge and application of the organization’s strategic direction, and agreement on its validity, by all the major LOB functions and processes of the organization. A misalignment occurs when there is a lack of awareness understanding importance of the strategy, or miss-application in executing the strategy by various departments or LOB’s.
Sun Tzu, author of the Art of War, captured the difficulty in achieving success without getting what we call in the modern age “buy-in” from all those involved in the endeavor: “Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation.”
Why does strategic misalignment exist and remains unresolved for many public and private sector organizations?
What is the actual cost if not resolved over time?
The costs can be very high, as we have seen with Facebook, Wells Fargo, and many other examples too numerous to recount here.
There are eight primary reasons why strategic misalignment occurs and why management and internal auditors fail to resolve those imbalances when they do occur.
Executives and Managers should be proactive in anticipating and resolving problems related to misalignments between enterprise-wide strategy and line-of-business priorities. These must be identified and resolved as soon as possible to avoid long-term financial losses and reputational damage. I welcome any suggestions you can provide on this topic.
Jonathan Ngah, CISA, CIA, CFE, CGFM, is a Principal at Synergy Integration Advisors, a consulting firm providing Audit, Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions to Federal Government Agencies, private-sector and not-for-profit organizations.
The next time you are in a with management consultants hired by your organization to provide support, bring up this question and listen to the different answers: “What is your value proposition?”
Before you can begin to answer this question, it is important to distinguish between the actual value provided and the perception of value. A consultant may perceive that the service they provided offered real value to the client and be able to quantify the value but the client may not have the same perception of the value.
The perception of value derived from services provided by consultants can be impacted by the level of involvement (skills, risks, cost, timeline and complexity) and the importance of the project to the client.
How would a manager who decided to hire consultants describe this value?
How would the consultants perceive the value provided?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines value as “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged.” The services provided by consultants should create real and perceived value for their clients. Consultants should remain focused on value creation when executing engagements. Providing complex solutions that clients cannot easily understand, implement and sustain is an example of non-value-added outcomes.
The term “value” is often used by consulting firms as a major differentiator when marketing diverse services to global clients. Yet evaluating the value chain for consulting is not a straight forward process. It can depend on clients pressing needs (which can change during the course of the engagement) and other subjective factors that can’t be easily measured.
How is value created and perceived?
Consultants create value for their client if:
The perception of value however is constantly evolving. What we value today could be significantly different from what we value tomorrow.
The strategy for value creation is no longer a matter of positioning a fixed set of activities along that old model, the value chain. Successful organizations increasingly do not just add value, they reinvent it. As a result, an organizations strategic task constitutes an ongoing reconfiguration and integration of its resources and capabilities to constantly create value for customers. What an organization does with those resources and capabilities is just as important as what resources and capabilities it possesses.
Evaluating the value of management consulting services should not be different. This also applies to projects managed by internal consultants. Such services are often measured in cost saving opportunities, increased revenue generation, return on investments, payback, etc. to the customer. Not all value created however, is captured by the traditional methods.
Let us know your thoughts on the issues raised in this blog, and check in next month as we continue exploring ways to provide value-added solutions to clients.
The content in this blog should not be considered advice and is provided for informational purpose only. For additional information on the issues outlined, please contact us at email@example.com.
1 – From Value Chain to Value Constellation: Designing Interactive Strategy by Richard Normann And Rafael Ramírez.
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