Having a sound strategic plan is imperative to survive in today’s highly competitive, global marketplace. At ArchPoint, one of the best tools we have found for building a strategic plan that resonates with all levels of an organization is the OGSM Model (Objective, Goals, Strategies and Measures – see Figure 1). The process of creating an OGSM allows your company to 1) clearly define its objectives (both in purpose and financially), 2) crystallize key strategies & initiatives, 3) assign owners and due dates, and finally, 4) build a one-page living document that can be the roadmap for all future planning reviews.
If you have not done an OGSM session with ArchPoint Consulting, it may seem like the proverbial “black box”. What exactly is it and how will it help my organization? Since over 50% of our consulting engagements involve OGSM work, this article condenses what happens over the course of a few months into a few paragraphs to give you a better understanding of the process and to let you judge for yourself if it might be worthwhile for your business.
The First Question: When Do You Need An OGSM Session?
If your organization is lacking a sustainable strategic planning process or if your goals and objectives do not align with an existing strategy, OGSM can be a powerful tool. It is powerful because first it harmonizes and priorities the company’s goals. And secondly, it transforms those strategic goals into a clear, executable plan that is easily tracked. And, with all ArchPoint engagements, we facilitate the development of your plan so that it becomes an active tool for your business. Here’s what we cover:
Gathering Internal Data
The process starts with interviews of your management team, typically about 20 people picked by the organization. Our ArchPoint consultants will interview each person for about two hours in a confidential setting. The questions are grouped into several categories as shown in Figure 2. By the end of the interviews, we have a good idea of what is working well and where there are areas for improvement. The ArchPoint team also reviews elements that impact employee satisfaction and customer experience including 1) customer management and marketing materials 2) customer and employee surveys and 3) productivity platforms like six sigma, lean, training, HR processes, etc. These elements are critical to understanding the organization from the outside in.
Gathering External Data
This is where ArchPoint’s process gets rooted in the reality of the marketplace. We start with a Voice of the Customer (VOC) survey to analyze critical customer needs and expectations. Next, we look inside the organization to identify which functions or departments deliver customer value. Although the finger is usually pointed at sales, this is not always the case. In addition, ArchPoint develops customer, channel, and end user segmentation, and analyzes 1) product/market performance and trends, 2) brand and company reputation, and 3) value proposition.
Facilitating An Executive Overview & Debriefing Session
Once the data is collected and analyzed, the ArchPoint team invites the leadership team to review a comprehensive, detailed summary of our findings. During the debrief session, we ask each team member to record observations to be used for a later exercise. The review begins with sharing the macro trends, major positive themes and opportunities for improvement for the company. We give feedback in all of the categories listed in the diagram including a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) based on input from the interviews. Furthermore, we present detailed analyses, graphs and even quotes from the interviewees (though the source always remains anonymous). At the end of the session, which can take 4-6 hours, the team has undergone a detailed and brutally honest assessment of their current state.
Defining Of A Company Objective Statement
We let the feedback settle and turn our attention to the next exercise, creating an objective statement for the company. An objective statement will answer the questions, “Why do we exist & what do we stand for?” Here’s an example from a recent engagement, “To be known as the leader of health and safety at home and at work through professional people, cutting edge technology and world class facilities and equipment to deliver measurable customer-driven and profitable results.”
Solidifying The Current Financial Outlook
We then turn our attention to a 3-5 year financial outlook and determine whether everyone has the same growth expectations. What are the headwinds and tailwinds facing the company and are the financial objectives achievable? If they are, we plow onward. If they are not, it is time for a “pause” to deal with the financial realities and obstacles that must be tackled first.
Creating Strategy Platforms
Next, we take the team through a unique exercise that creates strategy buckets. The “buckets” are derived from major observations made during the feedback session and are typically categorized into one of three areas: Growth, Productivity or People. We also look at the company’s alignment on its purpose, customers, services, markets and geographies. We review where there are strongholds today, where there are gaps and where the company needs to grow. When the exercise is complete, the team has developed around 6-8 overarching strategies for the company, grouped within the strategy buckets.
Grouping The Identified Issues For Resolution (Affinitization)
Then, the magic takes place. We go back to the original debrief from the interviews, gather all of the observations taken from the feedback (usually on sticky notes) and affinitize/group the observations under the key strategies. Though we’ve done this exercise many times, it’s always amazing to see how the observations from the feedback fit so neatly with the newly developed strategies, and how they provide substance for the initiatives.
Developing A Draft OGSM
Finally, we take all of the information from the 2-3 day session where we answer key strategic questions (see Figure 3) about the business and convert it into one tool – the OGSM. We add the key strategies (the choices to achieve our objectives and goals) and the initiatives (the programs required to deliver the strategies). Lastly, we list how progress will be measured, the primary owner of each initiative and the timing for completion. The result is a living tool, developed collaboratively and based on the needs of the business, and it can be used in every strategic planning session going forward. As always, the ArchPoint team is available to join those initial strategy sessions until the leadership team is fully comfortable using the tool on their own.
Aligning & Cascading Strategies
Cascading is the process by which alignment is achieved throughout the organization (see Figure 4). It links corporate level goals to the divisional or functional goals, and ultimately to the individual. It is both a top-down and a bottom-up flow of information which aligns the work at every level with the strategies of the organization. When cascaded downward, it provides clear and definitive direction to supporting functions and personnel. In the “bottom-up” flow it provides feedback onthe resources and timing required to accomplish the strategies. The effort culminates in a coordinated, measurable movement towards common business objectives and strategies.
In summary, the OGSM Framework forms the basis for strategic planning and execution as well as subsequent reviews. It brings visibility and accountability to the core objectives of the organization, and ensures activities are aligned to the financial goals. Due to the concise one-page format, it allows for quick management by exception of any initiatives that are off target. And finally, it works because it is simple, robust, and developed as a team.