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The Strategy Series - Part 3

The Strategy Series - Part 3

An Insight into: Turning ideas into actions

This article is the third in a series of articles which kicked off with “Set and forget might be great for products, but not for strategy” in which I introduced some steps I think are great to follow when developing an organisation’s strategy.

In my previous article I covered the first step in the process: “Developing a strategy – reflect, review, think and align.”  At the end of this step, an organisation should have developed the following:

  •  A clear and aligned vision and mission;
  • Clarity around the business model required to deliver these;
  • A good understanding of opportunities and threats that need exploiting or mitigating;
  • A list of learnings from the previous year;
  • A list of the critical risks the team think require mitigation and monitoring.

These outputs provide the foundations for the next step described in this article which is all about turning ideas into actions and ensuring there is a clear plan for the coming 12 months. 

Setting objectives and determining results

I recommend a process which involves some pre-work by the leadership team and then a workshop.

Pre-work

For the pre-work, I ask the leadership team to reflect on the work carried out so far and to think about what they feel are the priorities for the next 12 months.  To ensure focus, I ask them to send me their top 3 things they believe will have the greatest impact.  It makes sense for the team to do this in consultation with others in the organisation who they feel could have good input.

I will then take all the feedback and collate it onto a canvas ready for the workshop.

Workshop

In the workshop the aim is to share and debate everyone’s feedback and to turn the thinking into a set of strategic objectives for the coming 12 months.  

As I have said in previous articles, I would always recommend using a facilitator for these sessions.  Doing so will ensure the session is carefully structured, is well prepared and most importantly, it will allow every member of your team to fully engage in the process and the discussions. 

To do this, I suggest a structure along these lines:

  • Sharing everyone’s pre-work – let everyone share their thoughts and allow the team to discuss, debate and question.  Make any tweaks the team feel necessary and add any key new ideas if any arise.
  • Clustering – get the team to take all the ideas and cluster them into general themes.
  • Prioritising – there are often more ideas and themes than the team will be able to deliver in 12 months, so in this session the team determine the priorities, selecting the top 1-4 critical themes.  To ensure clarity and focus, the fewer the better.
  • The concept of OKRs – here I will introduce the concept of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).  This is a fantastic, simple but very powerful goal setting system used by Google and many other companies.  OKRs exist to create alignment and to set the cadence for an organisation with the goal to ensure everyone is going in the same direction, with clear priorities, in a constant rhythm. 
  • Converting themes to strategic OKRS –  Using OKRs the team convert the general themes into very clear and motivational objectives.  Then, and  most importantly, the team will be tasked to determine the precise metrics by which they’ll measure the progress towards the objectives.  This step is critical as it ensures there is no misunderstanding on what an objective means because the precise measures will make it clear.

Output and next steps

The output from this step will be:

  • Team alignment around the strategic direction for the organisation in the coming 12 months;
  • A clear set of strategic objectives with precise key results providing focus and clarity – there is no ambiguity as to what is required to be done;
  • A set of strategic objectives that can be shared across the organisation to help explain the strategic direction for the coming 12 months.

So, the organisation is now in a great place to start thinking about the detailed tactical planning required to deliver the strategy.  This is the next step and I will cover this in my next article. 

See you then.

Ludo

This is part of The Strategy Series by Ludo Chapman for Ashcroft LLP.
Read the full series of articles here:
Part 1: Delivering Innovative Strategies
Part 2: Developing a strategy
Part 3: Turning ideas into actions
Part 4: Managing your business with objectives


The Innovation Practice sets out to help businesses untangle strategic problems through facilitated workshops and mentoring. It was founded by Ludo Chapman, whose motto is “I am a facilitator, not a consultant.”

Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more

www.theinnovationpractice.co.uk

ludo@theinnovationpractice.co.uk

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