02/09/2015 07:35 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Having a Great Strategy is No Guarantee of Success

The simplest way to increase the odds of a successful change effort is to stop talking about 'change' itself. Change is not the goal; the goal is the goal. We are yet to encounter an organisation who aspires to destroy shareholder value, disappoint customers and alienate employees. Most organisations share aspirations which revolve around the universal principles of financial performance, customer satisfaction, employee commitment, product and service excellence, and sustainability.

When stakeholders in an organisation talk about change, what they are saying is that the organisation is not delivering on its articulated aspirations. Not only is change not the goal, but change is not even the process. The concept of 'change' carries significant baggage, has limited continuity, and encourages low accountability. The process by which we reach our aspirations is alignment.

Semantically, the definition of 'alignment' rests on the underlying concepts of adjustment, adaptation and cooperation. When a leadership team is clearly in alignment, employees in the organisation have confidence that the goals are reachable. Compared to change, alignment is a strong, positive and unemotional concept. Alignment is respectful of the past, it presumes the basic ingredients for success are already present, it allows for clear accountability, and provides a continuous reference point for improvement. In short, alignment is the business of business and the focus of effective leaders who are continually looking for levers that they can pull to reach their aspirations in a constantly changing and uncertain world.

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