SUCCESSFUL TEAMS BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN STRATEGY AND EXECUTION
Unless it’s Implemented, a Strategic Plan is Just a Document – a Dream
We have been working with organizations of all sizes and types for more than twenty years helping them create Strategic Clarity, Focus and Alignment. And we’re very good at it!
But developing such a strategic plan is not enough to ensure success. According to Ram Charan, author of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, “70% of strategic failures are due to poor execution… it’s rarely for lack of smarts or visions.“
Think about that for a minute!
All of the time, energy, and money invested in strategic planning – in getting your team aligned around your most important priorities – is at risk of being wasted. That investment is at risk if your don’t develop the processes and habits necessary to actually execute your organization’s strategic initiatives.
Symptoms of the Strategy - Execution Gap
“Only 11% of managers believe that all of their company’s strategic priorities have the financial and human resources needed for success.”
(Harvard Business Review, March 2015)
“30% of managers cite failure to coordinate across units as their greatest challenge to executing their company’s strategy.”
(Harvard Business Review, March 2015)
Want to Create a Sustainable Competitive Advantage?
We are “the glass is half full” kinds of folks. From our perspective, the fact that 70% of strategic plans don’t get implemented spells OPPORTUNITY!
Think about the competitive advantage you and your business will enjoy if you actually IMPLEMENT your strategies – if you are part of the 30% who execute their strategic plan. Our years of experience helping clients develop strategic plans has taught us that a good plan that actually gets implemented is far preferable to an outstanding plan that sits idle.
So we have been encouraging clients for years to focus on execution immediately after finalizing their strategic plan. Our strategy development sessions always include a discussion of HOW the strategy is going to be implemented (i.e., who’s going to do what by when).
Over the years we have used – and recommended – a number of approaches to helping our clients follow-through regarding Strategic Clarity, Focus and Alignment – to bridge the Strategy – Execution Gap. After all of that experimentation, we’ve found an approach that consistently works for all types and sizes of organizations. It’s called OKRs – Objectives and Key Results.
Bridge Strategy and Execution with OKRs
John Doerr is an investor and venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caulfied & Byers. In his recent best-seller, Measure What Matters, Doerr introduces us to OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).
Anyone involved in the tech industry or a management process discipline has probably heard of John Doerr and how he introduced the OKR system to Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1999.
Doerr began his career in 1974 at Intel where he learned OKRs from Intel’s ex-CEO Andy Grove, who is respected as one of the top CEOs in the business.
Doerr has Invested in some of the world’s most successful companies: Google, Amazon, Twitter, Intuit, Symantec, and Sun. Companies backed by John have created more than 300,000 new jobs.
In Measure What Matters, he discusses OKRs, setting and achieving audacious goals, and shares valuable lessons from some of the world’s best business leaders.
OKRs - A Definition
OKRs are a very simple methodology and language:
- Objectives (Os)
- Simply WHAT is to be achieved
- Significant, concrete and action oriented
- They are a vaccine against fuzzy thinking
- The objective is the direction
- Key Results (KRs)
- They benchmark and monitor HOW we get to the objective
- KRs should be succinct, specific, and measurable
- KRs typically include hard numbers
OKRs - The Formula
In Measure What Matters, Doerr credits Bill Davidow of Intel with developing the phrase that provides the real connective tissue between Objectives and Key Results…”as measured by.”
We want to:
as measured by this set of KRs:
- Key Result #1
- Key Result #2
- Key Result #3
Benefits of Using OKRs
- Alignment & cross-functional cooperation
- Reduced time for goal setting
- Clear communication
- Employee engagement
- Autonomy and accountability
- Focus and discipline
- Bolder goals
We want to Grow Our Global Business (O) as measured by:
- Increase sales to $100 million (KR 1)
- Increase average deal by 30% (KR 2)
- Reduce customer churn by 25% (KR 3)
We want to Become a Market Leader (O) as measured by:
- Increase Monthly Recurring Revenue by $200,000 (KR 1)
- Keep monthly customer churn below 5% (KR 2)
- Lower overall expenses by 5% (KR 3)
So how do you start implementing the OKR methodology in your organization? Good question!
You can, at least theoretically, implement an OKR program using Word documents or Excel spreadsheets. But (trust us on this one) that approach leads to frustration, inefficiency, and a lack of transparency – which is the opposite of what a successful OKR program yields.
So our recommendation is almost always to employ one of the many cloud-based SaaS solutions out there that have been designed for OKR roll-out. We and our clients have used several of these tools and we’d be happy to recommend to you the solution that we feel best balances functionality, simplicity, and cost.
We are agnostic to which OKR tool you may choose, but we strongly recommend that the first step in an OKR project be the identification of enterprise-level objectives and key results for your planning horizon (often three years). That, by the way, is the output from our Strategy Development workshops.
Without establishing where your organization is heading (i.e., having a strategic plan), trying to cascade high-impact OKRs is impossible. Sure, you can have individual groups develop OKRs based on what they feel is important and hope that the sum of their results get you where you want to be. But starting with your long-range goals in mind is much, much more effective in delivering potentially transformative results.
Why Work With Us?
There are many great reasons to select us as your OKR implementation partner rather than then trying to launch such a program yourself. This is one of those times that experience yields a very high ROI.
We are not hawking software. Unlike most so-called “OKR consultants,” we are not selling or representing a particular SaaS solution. Our goal is to help you execute your strategic plan using the OKR methodology – not sell software.
Our experience goes well beyond OKRs. We have been consultants and trusted advisers to CEOs, business owners, and other senior leaders for years. We bring you more than just rudimentary business skills – which is crucial to the development of meaningful OKRs.
Facilitation, strategy development and strategy implementation are our core competencies. We have almost twenty years of experience working with clients to create and implement strategic plans. OKRs are simply the latest tool we bring to our clients to help them be more successful.
We bring a fresh perspective. As “professional outsiders,” we can often recognize opportunities that might be hard for you and your team to see. And we can bring perspectives from the hundreds of other organizations we’ve worked with.
We will ask the difficult questions. We use an expansive toolkit and facilitation strategies honed over many years working with organizations of all types. We can often be more direct in challenging situations than might be “politically correct” for in-house resources – which leads to the creating of high-impact OKRs that will actually “move the needle.”
Meet Our Principals
We’ve been designing and facilitating strategic planning and implementation workshops for almost twenty years. Our clients range from global brands such as Bayer, BDO, and Gucci to entrepreneurial startups looking for their first profits to national associations like the School Nutrition Association. The organizations we work with are very different…but the challenges they face and their need to create strategic clarity, focus, and alignment are common ground.
Want to meet remotely? no problem!
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We leverage advanced video technologies, coupled with virtual breakout rooms, whiteboards, interactive real-time polling, etc., to bring you a workshop experience that is as good as - better than? - meeting in-person. Don't waste time and money traveling.