Before jumping into the OGSM methodology, allow me first a note on strategy and delivering results since that is what OGSM helps you accomplish.
Strategy describes the choices you make to achieve an objective. It is the approach you take to reach your destination. Strategy is about where to play and how to win. It is a roadmap to success.
Strategy is often perceived as a difficult topic – a high-flying, powerpoint-tossing exercise, rich in important sounding words and often disconnected from substance and reality. It’s perceived to be a game for senior executives and smart consultants and often causes more frustration than clarity and purpose. I know because I’ve been there. In the following I’ll share my experience and best practices.
Strategy is a roadmap to success
Everyone knows strategy is important. A good strategy is critical for success. It connects an enterprise’s purpose with its activities. It is a roadmap for action and guides decision making. It creates alignment in the organization and engagement in the team.
“Begin with the end in mind.”Stephen Covey
Creating a strategy seems like a difficult, resource-intensive process that takes time. And indeed in large corporations that often is the case. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be. A good strategy could be developed on the back of a napkin (Okay, bringing a napkin into the meeting with your board of directors or any stakeholder may not look convincing. But we’ll speak about communicating a strategy later). Or at an offsite retreat. Or with the team in a conference room. And it should fit on a single page. Because strategy is actually quite simple.
Strategy is nothing else than the choices you make to achieve an objective. It’s the approach you take to win. It’s a roadmap to success.
Most importantly though, strategy is about making choices. More specifically it is about the choices where to play and how to win.
For example, a strategy may describe what products to sell and which markets to target to grow your business 20% this year. Or a strategy could outline which customers to approach and what promotional offer to use to close that next sale. Or, quite simply, strategy may be the way you get to work today, choosing the mode of transport and which route you take.
Strategies are roadmaps that can be created at a corporate level, at a business unit or product/category level or at a tactical point-of-sale level. The point is that strategy is a means to an end, but never the end itself. The strategy is not the goal.
Too often in my business life I have heard: “our strategy is to make the numbers!” Yes, making the numbers is key. Business is ultimately about delivering results. But that is the goal, not the strategy. “Making the numbers” does not say WHERE to play or HOW to win. Strategy will say HOW to make the numbers.
Driving strategy implementation
So a strategy is a plan to achieve something. But it is more than a plan. Strategy is a set of choices that determines if and how you are going to be successful. And success is measured by results. And if you want to deliver excellent results, a plan is still not enough. You need a system for implementation. You need an approach that ensures that action is taken and followed up on. And that’s often the crux.
“A strategy is only as good as its execution”.My former mentor and friend
Let me take you on a quick journey. How often have you seen a strong strategic plan crafted with great diligence? Many hours of careful market analysis and data crunching go into its preparation. Well-formatted powerpoint slides are created. A raving presentation is given to an excited leadership team. Words of commitment are spoken and a spirited decision is made in pursuit of the identified opportunity and its promising results.
Only… after its presentation, the powerpoint is filed and everyone goes back to their daily work. You know, that day-to-day grind that keeps us all busy: emails, customer complaints, delayed shipments, and other small catastrophes. And nothing happens. Sounds familiar? Yes, I know. I’ve been there too. That’s why strategies fail.
A good strategy rallies the team: gain commitment, assign accountabilities, trigger action, drive change, ensure follow through. And that only happens when people know what is expected of them. That only happens when there is absolute clarity WHAT needs to get done and HOW it is accomplished. That only happens when there is a clear action plan, clear caretakers, clear deliverables, clear timelines. Enter the OGSM.
My aim is to make the topic of strategy approachable and winnable. I want you to be widely successful at creating strategies and executing them to perfection. Whether you are a leader at a Fortune 500, an aspiring entrepreneur, a hopeful young professional or a stay-home-mom with a side hustle, I want to help you win.
Because a good strategy is ultimately measured by its results: achieving 20% business growth, closing that next sale, or safely getting to work on time. Because only a good strategy that is well executed will lead to the desired results.
Having said all that, in the following, I will focus on the OGSM methodology to simplify strategy and deliver results. There are of course many other tools and approaches. After all, many books and articles have been written on the subject. However, in my personal experience I have found that the OGSM approach is the most compelling in leading through a strategy process, making choices and coming up with a one-page deliverable that is easy to understand, easy to communicate and easy to execute.
Focusing on only one approach may of course have disadvantages. Not everyone may find the OGSM methodology equally appealing. Not everyone may deem it the best fit for them. And that’s ok! If you gave it a try though, I am sure you may find that it is quite applicable to almost any circumstance, any business, any endeavor. It is true that it is not all encompassing. It is not a silver bullet. And it’s usage by itself will not guarantee success. After all, it’s merely a tool. In the end what you do with it still matters the most.
So let’s get to work!
Where can you go from here? Consider checking out our post on 6 steps to develop strategies that delivers results or learn more about OGSM here. Finally, leave a comment below. Would love to hear from you!
Not sure how to get started? Read this article about using an OGSM template to guide through the strategic planning process.
Covey, Stephen R. (2012). 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster