Creating a vision, purpose, mission, BHAG and having some thread of consistency between where you’re going and the nearer term goals to get there, are familiar business concepts to most leaders. Too often though this is an exercise for the Board and Executives, published to the employees and then followed by months and maybe years of leaders saying, “why don’t they get it?”

A recent Forbes article stated that 65% of organizations have an agreed upon strategy yet only 14% of employees understand that strategy and only 10% of the strategy is executed. ALIGNMENT on strategy is a critical and an often-overlooked ingredient – the missing piece to operating daily with a clear line of sight on what matters to your organization, where each and every employee knows what they are doing and why.

Many segments of our economy are growing rapidly.  The pace of growth is definitely exceeding the talent pool.  If you aren’t clear on why you should have a strong, simple strategy, consider this.  In organizations where the mission is clear, empowerment is consistent and shared values allow great collaboration employees flourish and want to stay. While culture often gets the credit, clearly communicated and inspiriting strategy is often the compelling element.

How many employees in your organization would be able to answer these critical questions—

Where are we going?

Mission or Purpose: Why you are in business.

Why are we going in that direction?

Vision or BHAG: What do you aspire to?

How will we get there?

Priorities or Initiatives: What you know now about what you need to do to achieve the Vision or BHAG?

How do we treat each other along the way?

Not just clearly articulated values, but clarity on the actions that support and demonstrate those values on a day-to-day basis.

Daily alignment and engagement around the “what and how” can be a game changer!

Secret Sauce to Strategy:  Alignment

When all aspects of your strategy work together from vision to execution and are understood from CEO to every leader and employee, that is true strategic alignment. It allows all effort to be in the same (right) direction. It increases energy, encourages creativity within boundaries, measures and rewards desired results, and ultimately builds trust and contribution.

The world is changing fast and every day our access to more and more information increases. We are all pulled in too many directions with too many “sexy” distractions and opportunities to diverge. The battle to keep leaders and employees alike focused is real. This is another critical drive to gaining clarity and alignment on the strategy. It is a critical element in the “golden thread” of high performance. The higher the levels of engagement of your employees in the process, the faster the alignment (and action to implement) will come.

The creation of these elements sometimes requires a good deal of dialogue and even debate. That respectful challenge is what ultimately makes for a great strategy. And it is nothing to shy away from.  The most important thing is to keep the messaging and relationship between the strategic elements as simple as possible, communicate it clearly and often, and use an agile, learning organization approach to constantly improving the how and annually engaging on the what.

The most important thing to realize is that you don’t have a strategy if only a handful of people know what it is. You have a document. Real strategies drive execution and provide results worth celebrating.