istock_000019512143_extrasmallIn the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy stated that he wanted to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade; a pretty lofty goal. Senator George Smathers from Florida agreed with the “lofty goal” part. So, before voting to secur e funds for the initiative, he wanted to make sure he made the right decision. He visited Cape Canaveral to do a bit of detective work on his own. After much time, observation, questioning and exploration he still had not made a decision.

At the end of the day he saw a worker cleaning up and asked what her job was. Her reply was simple, “I’m part of a team that’s going to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade.” Decision made!

This is an example of strategic alignment at its best. Everyone knows the organization’s charge, and all of the stars are in alignment (strategic intention: systems, processes, leadership, management, expectations, authority, responsibility, individual empowerment and supportive behavior). But what happens when the stars are misaligned; when the systems and departments are out of sync? What happens when a department exists for the good of itself and individuals behave selfishly rather than for the greater customer and organizational good?

The simple fact is that the more an organization’s systems and processes are aligned with its strategic intention – and all of the employees support this alignment behaviorally – the greater the opportunity for success.

In fact, if the plan is sound, it’s almost impossible to fail no matter how ambitious the organization or that plan is – even if that includes sending a man to the moon.

By Grant Stewart, Performance Matrix LLC.