A strategy is a course of action being taken to achieve a specific purpose. As there are never limitless resources available, strategizing requires the selection of those actions that have the highest chance of success. In other words, setting a strategy is about making choices.
Strategies can be developed for different levels of aggregation – for individuals, teams, units, etcetera, all the way up to entire countries and the world. Business level strategies are made for organizations or units engaged in one specific type of business in one particular type of market. If an organization is involved in two or more businesses, they also need to formulate a corporate level strategy.
The Strategic Alignment Model gives a complete overview of the elements that are relevant to determining a business level strategy. These are the key variables that strategists can decide to change to achieve their purpose. Central to the model is the notion that all variables need to be aligned into a coherent whole. In this systems view, changes in one area will need to be translated into adjustments elsewhere to ensure overall alignment. The model consists of three main systems, that each need to be aligned internally and with one another. This entire business level system is inherently dynamic, sometimes driven by the choices strategists make, but often also by autonomous developments.
The three main systems that need to be aligned are the following:
The strategic choice here is how to configure the entire business system into a coherent whole so that the value proposition will have a competitive advantage vis-à-vis industry rivals and revenues will be significantly higher than the costs of the activities and resources. This choice of business model is also called the question of “how to play?” or “how to win?”.