In this chapter we present the ESCO (environment, strategy, core competencies and organization) strategic alignment model. We bring the model to life by showing how strategic misalignments can develop and grow over time, ultimately leading to corporate failure, through exploring the trajectories of two once successful companies, Worldcom and Nortel Networks. In terms of the strategy as practice framework of practitioners, practices and praxis, we illustrate a number of insights: Firstly, how practitioners (strategists, including leaders and boards of directors) are central to processes of alignment and misalignment. We also show how practices, whether intended ones such as aggressive expansion via acquisition, and successive rounds of downsizing, or implicit ones such as weak internal controls and insufficient customer focus can precipitate strategic misalignments that ultimately lead to corporate failure.
Keywords: mergers and acquisitions; practitioners, practices and praxis; strategizing; strategy as practice; strategy execution; strategy practitioners