Is it often said that if one trusts in the process, the intended outcome will be reached. More often than not this proves to be true.

Trusting the process can be difficult. Many distractions and forces can take you off course and change your focus. Yet, if you stay on course, my alignment frameworkwill provide a basis for accomplishing most of what a company or team needs to reach higher levels of performance and achievement.

Alignment is the single most critical business challenge for any organization and its leaders. Without it, inefficiency, conflict, and disengagement will cripple your ability to provide value to your customers.

The elements of alignment from my book True Alignment provide a framework that can be used as a step-by-step process. Taking a clear, systemic approach centered around the four elements of customer, brand intention, culture, and leadership, True Alignment presents an effective, easy-to-apply framework for tackling the challenge of alignment head-on, giving you the tools and guidance you need.

You can leverage any part of this alignment framework to focus on the issue at hand. That approach serves us well, yet can limit our thinking, our perceived choices, and our actions. At times, adherence to step-by-step processes can make us rigid, which doesn’t serve us well.

Frequently, our models for teams and companies apply strategic thinking periodically. In the end, success requires both processes for planning and structures for the ongoing assessment and confrontation of the issues and challenges of misalignment.

I encourage you to use the framework as a process for strategic alignment and as the basis for ongoing conversation.

A brief review of the alignment framework.

Begin with the end in mind. The first step is to clearly articulate the company’s mission and purpose, thereby communicating why the company exists. It always begins with the customer.

Brand Intention

To succeed, a business must be able to explain why the customer is spending money for a product or service with one company over another.

Brand intention is the thoughtful and deliberate delivery, through a product or service, of your promise to the customer. It goes beyond statements of a customer or brand promise, market differentiator, and competitive advantage, which are aspects of brand intention.


The vision of a company provides a clearly articulated picture of the future. It includes five key parts: product and service development, market development, operational improvement, finance, and culture. The vision communicates what a company is intended to look like.


A company’s strategy provides the plan for change that is communicated to employees. The strategy clearly defines measurable goals and outcomes, provides timelines and explains how the goals will be achieved. It also establishes the company’s strategic priorities and aligns shorter term initiatives to longer-term outcomes and assigns responsibility to the various parts and individuals.

Group and Team Strategy

Each part of a company must know and understand how its performance contributes to the successful delivery of the product or service to the customer.

In alignment to the company strategy, group and team strategies provide a detailed periodic that clearly defines the measurable goals and outcomes, the timelines, and how the strategic outcomes of the team will be achieved. In alignment to the company’s brand intention and strategy, a team’s strategy will also align to the company’s strategic priorities. It also assigns roles and responsibilities to the various members of the team.

Personal Goals and Development

Individual responsibilities are defined and, to further individual engagement, are aligned to the group and company strategies. This includes measurable and well-defined outcomes, clearly articulated authority for decision making, and expectations for the In high-performing teams and groups, the opportunity for the development of each individual member is incorporated.

Thus, I’ve focused on providing a framework for aligning the what and the why of business. The first step in aligning culture is defining it.



Edgar Papke is the co-author of Innovation By Design and author of True Alignment and The Elephant In The Boardroom. He helps leaders and their organizations align to create greater levels of innovation, performance, and fulfillment. He can be reached by email: