I’ve been observing and participating in various discussions around  ‘strategic alignment’.  I have to conclude, as so many others have as well, that this term is used loosely and frequently, but seldom with any real ‘strategy’ or ‘alignment’ coming into play. Part of the problem is the inherent disconnect between traditional organizational practices around promotions, (which effectively ensure that business unit boundaries are maintained) and recognition of the broader corporate/enterprise agenda that these business units exist to support. One of the other challenges to true ‘strategic alignment’, however, is the overriding focus on short term financial performance. In economically challenging times (as now) the short term revenue/expense drivers will ALWAYS trump strategic direction. Although I can understand the mindset – ‘What good is long term strategy if you don’t have short term financial viability?’ – one could also argue that without a clear understanding of WHY the business exists and WHAT it needs to do to continue to be relevant, its financial viability is limited and temporary.

The question is: Do we as consultants and strategists contribute to the status quo in order to remain financially viable ourselves, or do we become activists for change with our clients to move them up the ‘strategy’ maturity model?