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Strategic Alignment By Tom Okarma

The Significance of Strategic Alignment

What does strategic alignment have to do with impact and outcomes?

If you stop to think about it, leaders can significantly increase the impact of their nonprofit agencies without spending an extra dime.

Say what?

Let’s say your agency has:

  • Experienced leadership-CHECK
  • A clear and compelling strategic plan-CHECK
  • The respect and support of the community where you operate-CHECK
  • A hardworking board and staff-CHECK
  • A cadre of loyal and highly motivated volunteers-CHECK

How is it one agency can make a bigger impact on its community than another? How can one deliver services to its clients less expensively than another? Why does one seem to achieve its goals almost every year while another one underperforms and offers excuses?

Often, the missing ingredient is strategic alignment. Agencies that have enterprise strategic alignment usually outperform others. Best-in-class results are possible when the agency effectively links everything together. It all starts with the vision, mission, and values, of course. But, sad to say, that is often where it all ends.

Poor follow-through by leaders to insure program linkage back to the agency’s mission is all it takes for things to take on a life of their own. When that happens, you end up with semi-independent silos operating autonomously instead of one, well-run organization. This is costly and only dilutes the agency’s impact.

This lack of strategic alignment can show up in many ways. For instance:

  • Resources being spread too thin due to unintended mission creep or loss of focus
  • Problems due to insufficient documentation of procedures, decisions, and protocols
  • Program directors and managers competing with each other because they forgot they are supposed to work together to achieve shared goals
  • Bottlenecks and gaps in operations due to an out-dated organizational structure

Getting to a condition of strategic alignment in your agency is desirable, achievable, and necessary in these days of limited resources. In fact it’s simple, but it’s just not very easy.

Simple because you can graph and visually monitor your progress as you progress. Hard because it often requires your needing the courage to make some tough calls and changes.

You have many tools at your disposal to create and then maintain this strategic alignment. It’s really not rocket science,  but it does take a willingness to be the leader everyone expects you to be.


Tom Okarma serves nonprofits in the areas of board development, governance, and strategy. He has more than 30 years of varied and progressive experience in the insurance industry and the nonprofit world. Learn more about Tom can help you, HERE.


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