Center for Simplified Strategic Planning

Strategic Alignment:

Why Isn’t Everyone on the Same Page?

Denise Harrison
Executive Vice President & COO, CSSP, Inc.

Denise Harrison

Communicating strategy and gaining buy-in enables an organization to truly execute the strategic plan. As President of a financial services firm, I communicated regularly but was stymied by the lack of understanding and buy-in of the strategic plan. What could I do differently? I found that two-way communication is paramount to gaining the comprehension and action that I was seeking. So many use the “I talk, you listen” communication technique, and we fail to see the importance of having employees respond with their thoughts and ideas.

Once I understood the importance of two-way communication, I had each department communicate back their thoughts and ideas after hearing the strategic planning presentation. They answered the question: “What are you going to do in support of the strategic plan?” They had great ideas and now they bought into the plan, because their ideas were incorporated into the plan.

Now, as a consultant, I work with teams on strategic alignment and have found that along with two-way communication, one needs to raise the level of strategic thinking in the organization. Sounds hard? Not really – it essentially involves understanding who your customers are, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and developing key initiatives that tie back to the strategy. If you are interested in more detail, I have presented my thoughts in a free archived webinar – just click on: strategic alignment.

Denise Harrison is Executive Vice President & COO at the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at

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