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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Align by Jonathan Trevor


I finished this book in October 2023. I recommend this book 2/10.


You should read this book if you want to understand that business purpose comes before strategy and that organizational capability, organizational architecture, and the management system are just as critical as strategy.


Get your copy here.


🚀 The book in three sentences

  1. Make sure you plan for all five stages and don't just settle with purpose and strategy.

  2. Use the SAF model to capture where you think your business needs to be.

  3. This is the 50,000-foot book looking at being agile vs. stable and connected vs. autonomous.

📝 My notes and thoughts:

  • P24. Introduction to strategic alignment,

    • Enterprise purpose: What do we do, and why do we do it?

    • Business strategy: What are we trying to win at to fulfill our purpose?

    • Organizational capability: What do we need to be good at to win?

    • Organizational architecture: What makes us good enough to win.

    • Management systems: What delivers the performance we need to win.

  • P35. The SAF offers a range of useful, practical applications to help leaders in their decision-making. It enables leaders to:

    • Map their current and future enterprise.

    • Measure the strength of their enterprise's alignment.

    • Prioritise interventions.

  • P39. A senior executive I worked with recently described the trade-off as: 'Despite what the gurus say, you can't play basketball and tennis on the same court at the same time and expect to be good at either."

  • P59. Multi-everything in this sense means:

    • multi-level: being capable of enterprise-level thinking from 50,000 feet down;

    • multi-disciplinary: being 'T-shaped,' or possessing generalist and specialist knowledge ranging across the business.'

    • multi-national: having no geographical or cultural bias in scope or decision-making;

    • multi-stakeholder: understanding the enterprise from multiple perspectives and interests; and finally

    • multi-phased: choosing to think in the near, medium, and long term, despite pressure for immediate results.

  • P68. A well-understood and valued purpose is not enough in and of itself—it needs to be supported by a well-arranged enterprise value chain. Enterprise leaders need to ensure their enterprise purpose guides strategic decision-making about what the enterprise is trying to win at consistent with its purpose (its business strategy), what it needs to be food at to win (its organizational capabilities), what makes it good enough to win (its organizational architecture) and what will deliver the performance it needs to win (its management system). Unless an enterprise can perform its purpose, it will remain unfulfilled, no matter how worthwhile it may be.

  • P76. Start by finding your purpose. Your business strategy is "How" you will fulfill your purpose.

  • P89. An effective business strategy is the result of purposeful and systematic decision-making by enterprise's enduring purpose in each moment of time. The strategic alignment challenge for enterprise leaders is to answer the question: What are we trying to win at to fulfill our enterprise purpose? A well-formulated business strategy considers customer preferences and competitor capabilities and articulates, coherently forward-looking planning, priorities, actions, and measures in respect of what to offer to the market (i.e., market offerings) and how to offer it (i.e., strategic approach.)

  • P97. Harnessing the enterprising abilities of their talent, Enterprising Responders set themselves apart by their ability to offer new products and services to market, unlike Efficiency Maximizers, which seek to exploit known and existing customer opportunities more and more efficiently. While supply-led Efficiency Maximizers require customers to align to their standardized offerings, customer-centric Enterprising Responders set out to do precisely the opposite.

  • P102. Network Exploiters tap into the potential for product and service variety within their extended network and, using their superior connectivity, harness it in ways that can be configured to customer requirements and rapidly reconfigured as requirements change.

  • P103. By the terms of the SAF, enterprises can propose only one strategic approach at any one time within any one market in which they are competing to win. A number of important points should be noted. First, enterprise leaders must choose the strategic approach they think is best. While it may seem obvious, many enterprises fail to systematically select a strategic approach or, even if they do, fail to communicate in such a way that it guides effort and implementation of the enterprise's business strategy—its plan for how to win. Second, committing to a strategic approach means sacrificing any potential advantage offered by another strategic approach. The choice is not to be taken lightly, Enterprises cannot differentiate themselves based on superior organizational stability and organizational agility at the same time.

  • P116. Map out the business strategy on SAF. Make sure not to land in the middle.

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