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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Jul 18, 2021

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by a recurrent guest, Adam Ulery, to talk about the importance of aligning strategy with execution as a necessary step to reach the top-level vision at an organization. The lack of alignment between strategy and execution is often seen among leadership teams and portfolio management teams and is manifested in program and delivery teams as well. This deficiency is mostly perceived as a symptom, not realizing that is the root cause.


In this episode, Dan and Adam discuss some of the root causes of the lack of alignment, they share strategies to organizations that are lacking alignment, and they dive deep into how to measure if a company is moving closer or farther from its strategy in order to enable accountability in every sector of the organization.


Key Takeaways

  • What does the lack of alignment between strategy and execution look like?
    • The team is not sure what to work on.
    • The team feels it is not getting clear direction on the objectives.
    • Heads of organizations might not be in agreement 
  • There are serious consequences as a result of the lack of alignment between teams; one of them is having too much work in process (since the team is not rejecting the job that does not strictly align with the organization’s vision).
  • The Root Causes for lack of alignment:
    • If there is no strategy it is impossible to align to it.
    • Having a strategy that is not coherent, clear, well written, or there isn’t an understanding on how to execute on it.
    • The leadership team doesn’t have a clear understanding of the strategy.
    • Sometimes strategies are too broad or too complex to be meaningful.
    • Undermining the strategy by executives that don’t agree with it.
    • The strategy is not communicated effectively.
  • How to begin aligning strategy and execution?
    • First, the organization needs to create a strategy if it doesn’t have one. 
    • If there is a strategy, make sure it is clear or clarify it.
    • Ask yourself: Are we committed to this strategy? Are we executing it?
    • Understanding the deviations from the strategy is part of becoming accountable.
    • Celebrate those who show behaviors that prove an alignment with the strategy.
  • How does an organization measure if they are moving closer or farther away from the strategy to help enable accountability?
    • Establish value-based measures and consistently use them.
    • Pay attention to key results, not to the activity.
    • Reinforce the collaboration between verticals and horizontals.
    • A periodic inspection is necessary.
  • What can somebody closer to a team level do in the absence of a clear strategy?
    • Ask questions, be curious, talk openly about this in a productive way.
    • Make visible that there is no alignment between strategy and execution.


Mentioned in this Episode:

Listen to Episode 138: “Strategic vs. Tactical Decisions and Actions with Adam Ulery”


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