I recently wrote about monthly OGSM reviews which are important, regular check-ins to make sure you are on track with executing your business plan. In addition, quarterly in-depth reviews are an effective complement to monthly reviews. But what’s the difference and why have them?
While monthly OGSM reviews are brief updates about execution progress, quarterly OGSM reviews are more thorough examinations of strategies and measures to confirm whether the business is on track to achieving its overall objective and goals.
Executing your strategy should be right among your top priorities as the business leader. And regular reviews are critical to following through. Here’s how you can go about it most effectively.
Quarterly OGSM Reviews
When using the OGSM methodology for your annual operating plan (AOP) or your 3-5 year strategy, it is important to conduct in-depth quarterly reviews to keep on track with execution.
The purpose of the quarterly review is to get an update on the progress of each strategic initiative on your business plan. This means that each Measure and Strategy are examined against their targets and that progress is made towards Objective and Goals as expected.
For the quarterly OGSM review, I therefore usually schedule a 2-3 hour session in the first month of the following quarter. A timeslot of 2-3 hours allows enough time to dive into detail for each initiative while not wasting valuable time. If you are overall on track, 2 hours might suffice. If you need more time for detailed reviews, go with 3 hours, maximum 4 hours.
During the meeting, each initiative owner provides an update on progress, milestones, challenges, and next steps. The initiative owners should review both the metrics and the actions taken. This is best prepared up front and shared as pre-read ahead of time. I am providing a template below that might be useful for this.
Begin with an overview of the entire OGSM and overall progress of the business against its objectives. Then go bottom up strategy by strategy to review first those initiatives that are behind expectations or require attention. Then go to those initiatives that are on track.
Pay particular attention to those initiatives that are facing challenges, have key milestones coming up, or require decisions or support from the leadership team.
For each initiative, discuss countermeasures and actions as appropriate. Agree on the follow up required. As during the monthly review, all actions are recorded with caretakers and timelines.
After reviewing each initiative, confirm that the overall path chosen is still the right one. The OGSM should never be carved in stone and the quarterly review is the time to revisit whether the chosen initiatives are still the right ones to move the business towards its overall objective and goals.
Consider to stop those initiatives that are not contributing to target achievement. Consider adding initiatives needed to get the business back on track. As during the OGSM creation, consider carefully the resources needed for new and old initiatives. Make sure there are clear caretakers, timelines and actions defined.
Finish the quarterly review meeting with a round of feedback and a review of the recorded action items.
In the monthly review article I suggested to plan out the 12 monthly reviews ahead of time. Go ahead and send out 12 recurring calendar invites directly in the beginning of the year. Thereby it’s in the calendar and everyone can plan ahead. It becomes a monthly staple.
Once a quarter, designate one of the monthly reviews as the larger quarterly review. I like to go for the first month of the following quarter, i.e. January, April, July, October. The reason is that quarterly figures are available and evenly spaced out, you have a chance for a deeper review every 3 months.
Extend the recurring invitations of those quarterly review dates from 60min to 2-3 hours as suggested above.
Preparation for the quarterly review
The best review meetings are those that are well prepared. Go into the quarterly update meeting with an updated OGSM document and a one-page update for each initiative. This requires that the OGSM document is updated by the caretaker prior to the meeting and that each initiative owner prepares a one-page update as well.
On the OGSM document there are 2 columns that need to be updated. This includes the status field and a brief comment about target achievement incl. proposed actions or countermeasures (as necessary). See the following image.
For the status field, I typically use the following color-coded setting which has served me well:
Further explanation about each of these status colors as follows:
|Light Green (LG)||On Track||Item is in progress and on track to achieving it’s targets.|
|Dark Green (DG)||Completed||Item is done and targets are met.|
|Yellow (Y)||Needs Attention||Item needs attention by the organization or its senior team in order to stay on track and not fall behind.|
|Red (R)||At Risk||Item is at risk of missing its targets and needs urgent attention and action.|
|Blue (B)||On Hold||Item has been placed on hold, postponed or deprioritized.|
Regarding the color-coding, I always emphasize that the status assessments are meant to be forward-looking and action-oriented and not punitive. A red color is not bad by itself. It does not mean that someone is getting fired. Encourage your team to use ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ statuses to signal that urgent action is needed.
For each of the strategic initiatives, ask the initiative owners to prepare a one-page update about progress. This should include progress, milestones, challenges, and next steps. The following template might be useful.
You can find this project report template and other useful tools on our Tools & Templates page.
Ask the initiative owners to share these up front as pre-read. In my experience, review meetings are significantly more efficient and productive when there are no surprises in the meeting. Providing a pre-read up front allows everyone to be prepared and to direct the attention during the meeting to where it is most needed.
One comment about these one-pagers: preparing a one-page update sounds like a lot of administrative work. And yes, it is. It is up to you how you want to manage this. If you feel it’s over the top, then skip the one-pagers and concentrate on the OGSM document. I can however say from my own experience that the regular updating of a one-page initiative update gives additional legitimization and scrutiny to the initiative. Having led both OGSM reviews as business leader and OGSM initiatives as a project leader, I much appreciated the one-pagers as a situational snapshot similar to the balance sheet in an annual report.
What does the agenda of a quarterly review meeting look like?
The agenda of a quarterly review meeting looks similar in structure to the monthly review, however offers more time to go into detail for each of the strategies and measures. As noted above, a 2-3 hour meeting has served me well, which includes the senior business leaders and the owners of the strategies and measures.
This is what the agenda of a quarterly OGSM review meeting might look like.
|5 min||Welcome & opening statements||Business Leader|
|15 min||Review Financials & key Performance Indicators||Business Leader or OGSM Caretaker/facilitator|
|15 min||Review actions from previous OGSM review||OGSM caretaker/facilitator|
|90 min||Review strategies and measures|
Each initiative owner provides an update on progress, milestones, challenges, and next steps.
Review initiatives ‘at risk’ and ‘need attention’ and discuss countermeasuresReview ‘on track’ initiatives and next stepsCheck for decisions, resource needs
(~10 min each)
|15 min||Review progress towards overall objective and goals based on initiative updates||OGSM Caretaker/facilitator|
|15 min||Confirm actions from this OGSM review||Business Leader or OGSM Caretaker/facilitator|
|10 min||Feedback||Business Leader or OGSM Caretaker/facilitator|
Note that I added a 10min section on feedback to the end of the agenda. The purpose of this feedback session is to jointly assess the effectiveness of the review meeting and the progress of the initiatives. It’s meant to be brief and candid. Go around the room in round-robin style and give everyone a chance to speak. This has proven very useful in my experience to vastly improve the review meetings and keep the team engaged. Sometimes the real concerns only came out at the very end….
Feel free to copy this out and into the invitations of your quarterly OGSM review meetings. Or you can find a PDF copy of this meeting agenda and other useful on our Tools & Templates page here.
What happens after the Quarterly OGSM Review?
Once you have finished the quarterly review, send out the detailed meeting minutes to all participants and important stakeholders. Include the updated OGSM, any additional documents such as the initiative one-pagers, and most importantly the decisions and action items.
You can find a template for meeting minutes on our Tools & Templates page.
The initiative owners are then asked to implement their actions as agreed during the meeting. Follow up on the actions and the status of the initiatives in the next monthly review.
Tip: it has really benefited the businesses I have been a part of when the business leader follows up with initiative owners also “offline”. These may be informal check-ins or watercooler chats. These casual encounters are helpful to keep engaged, get a feel for progress and sometimes get more valuable information than during a formal meeting.
What’s the difference between Monthly & Quarterly OGSM Reviews?
I like to make a clear distinction between more thorough quarterly OGSM reviews and more frequent monthly OGSM reviews.
As described above, the purpose of the quarterly OGSM review is a more in-depth review of the OGSM to confirm whether the business is on track to achieving its overall objective and goals.
The purpose of the monthly OGSM review on the other hand is a more regular check-in to track execution and take corrective actions for those initiatives which are ‘at risk’ or ‘need attention’. The discussion is brief, candid and solution-oriented. The monthly OGSM review only takes about 60 minutes.
As during the quarterly review, all actions are recorded with caretakers and timelines.
Why conduct reviews at all?
Fair question! Why do we conduct reviews? And why so many? The whole point of making a plan is to know where you are going and to align your company’s resources behind the overall objective and goals of the business. So the review aims to establish that you are going in the right direction and that you are on track to achieving your targets!
In another article about the 11 secrets of strategy execution I have recently quoted a study that found that ⅔ of all strategies fail during implementation. That’s a staggering finding and a massive waste of resources.
Key reasons why strategies fail according to the quoted study are that the strategies aren’t clear, that they are ill communicated, that senior management is not behind them, and that execution is not part of the company culture.
Senior management led reviews of strategy execution are therefore critical for the following reasons:
- OGSM reviews are an opportunity to regularly reinforce priorities and achieve clarity about the direction of the business
- Senior leaders demonstrate that strategy execution is a priority and that they personally attend to execution
- Regular reviews encourage taking action and following through on plans
- Regular reviews offer the opportunity to celebrate wins, give exposure to successful projects, and provide support and encouragement to initiatives falling behind.
In my experience these are critical reasons for conducting regular monthly check-ins and in-depth quarterly reviews and vastly improve your odds at achieving your targets and delivering results.
How to create an OGSM for your business?
We have now been speaking about implementing your OGSM and keeping on track with your execution via quarterly review meetings. But how do you actually create an OGSM in the first place?
Check out Rock Your Strategy’s resources about OGSM and how to create effective strategic plans that deliver results. You can read a general introduction about OGSM here. The article includes links to deep dives into each element of the OGSM: objectives, goals, strategies, and measures.
If you are looking for examples as reference or inspiration click here. You can also download tools and templates in support of your strategy process here.
The purpose of the quarterly OGSM review is to ensure that the implementation of your plan is on track.
Schedule a 2-3 hour session (based on progress) and review each initiative and strategy. Each initiative owner provides an update on progress, milestones, challenges, and next steps. This should be prepared ahead of time.
The review includes an assessment of each strategy to confirm that the path chosen is still the right one to move the business towards its overall objectives.
If required, countermeasures are discussed and agreed on. All actions are recorded with caretakers and timelines.
What experiences have you made with your OGSM review? We’d be happy to learn about your best practices. Feel free to leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.