Why Smart Leaders Play “Connect 4”

Every business must have a strategic plan. As a leader, your key responsibility is to design your business strategy, and make it work!

Why it is sometimes so complicated to make organizations move in the right direction.? Why some businesses continuously struggle to achieve their strategic goals?

Many executives experience the same frustration every year, as their companies fail to turn their strategic thoughts into the desired business results.

What drives strategy execution failure?

The most common reason driving strategy execution failure, is theMISALIGNMENT between the Four Essential Elements sustaining any transformational plan:

  • Company Culture
  • Business Structure
  • Leadership Style
  • Employee Engagement

OK I get it, but what can I do to get these four items fully aligned?

Play “Connect 4”. The Alignment Assessment Game.

The “Connect 4” is an alignment assessment game, based upon advanced strategy execution theories from world-class business schools.

The “Connect 4” game will help you figure out the most consistent combination of essential elements, based upon what strategy – or combination of strategies – you pursue.

How does “Connect 4” work?

The rules of the game are very simple:

  1. Starting from the top horizontal axis, choose what strategy – or combination of them – you want to pursue: Innnovation, Customer Intimacy, Operational Excellence or Cost Leadership.
  2. Now find the cell in the middle section that connects your chosen Strategy with the four essential elements necessary to succeed.
  3. The words in the middle section are called “Engagement Drivers” and indicate two things:
    1. What type of skill-set and mindset employees must be hired and rewarded for, respectively.
    2. What Culture, Structure, and Leadership Style you must combine together in order to succeed.

Example No. I: Ideal alignment of elements for strategies focused on differentiation thru innovation.

  • Culture: A Culture of cultivation suits best those companies pursuing innovation strategies.
  • Engagement Driver: Creativity – Employees are hired and rewarded for their originality and inventiveness.
  • Structure: Fully dedicated teams, independent and exclusively focused on creativity and innovation.
  • Leadership: Insightful executives work towards the anticipation of future Customer needs.

Any other combination of elements is considered a misalignment and will surely increase the probability of failure.

Can I combine multiple strategies?

It is important to remark that the larger the No. of dimensions (Multiple markets, customer segments, functions, etc.) the more strategies you may need to combine together.

The “Connect 4” alignment principle remains unchanged though. Let´s see now an example of how we can line up multiple strategies:

Example No. II: Ideal alignment of elements for combined strategies. Differentiation thru Innovation + Customer Intimacy

  • Culture: Cultivation + Collaboration
  • Engagement Driver: Creativity + Team Work must be incentivized and rewarded.
  • Structure: Fully Dedicated teams + Organization Matrix (Cross-functional teams)
  • Leadership: Insightful + Thoughtful

You can combine as many strategies as you like, but remember the key to success is always CONSISTENT ALIGNMENT of the four essential elements sustaining the execution of your plan.

The “Smart Talk Trap” (Or when the results never come)

Unfortunately, there are still some business leaders who seem to prefer “The Smart Talk” game, instead of investing the necesssary time and effort in the alignment of the four essential elements driving strategy success.

Some people find it easier to make empty promises, expecting that their strategic thoughts would eventually self-materialize, or even blaming others when results do not come.

It is the responsibility of the business leaders to make their business strategies work, from design to execution.

The alignment of the four essential elements is the only way to successful strategy execution.


Playing “Connect 4”, and being consequent with the output of the game, will help you avoid disengagement and dissapoinment across employees, Customers and shareholders, while you increase your chances to succeed as a leader.

Do Not Fall Into The Smart Talk Trap! Wise Leaders Play “Connect 4” Instead.

Should you have any question, or if you like to learn further about how to play “Connect 4” and make the most out of the outputs of the game, please do not hesitate to contact me at:


I hope you enjoyed the reading. If so, please don´t forget to share it with others who may find it useful too and click on “Like”. Thanks a lot!

You may also like to read my recent posts on Linkedin.

Jordi is the Founder of Key Strategic Chain Solutions, a management consulting firm specializing in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Strategy and Portfolio Management.

Best regards,

Jordi Alemany


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s