I like the pyramid metaphor because it highlights strategic alignment from strategy at the top to tactics to concrete specific activities.
Strategic alignment is like silk. It’s hard to describe in the abstract, but you know it when you see it. And you know the lack of it when you see that, too.
For example: a local computer systems retailer whose strategy is providing a high level of service to local businesses, offering peace of mind in exchange for prices higher than the box stores, generates strategic alignment by beefing up its service capability with training and additional staff, buying some white vans with messaging about installation and delivery, and dedicating space in the store for a long service counter staffed by technicians in white coats. That same business is out of strategic alignment if it does nothing to improve service, doesn’t deliver or install, and hounds customers who are leaving bills unpaid because their equipment wasn’t installed correctly and isn’t working.
And another example: a restaurant whose strategy is great healthy gourmet meals for special occasions is in alignment when the food, the locale, and the service are excellent; the food sourcing is organic, the cooking is new cuisine, naturally light; and the meals are expensive. A restaurant with that strategy is out of alignment if the food is mediocre, or too heavy on sauces and butter; or the service is poor, or annoying; or it offers drive-through value meals; or it caters to kids under 10.