OGSM: The Tool That Taught Me Strategy

view of myOGSM dashboard, a strategy execution software

Jesse Edelman is a founding member of ArchPoint and its Chief Operating Officer. He began his career at Procter & Gamble in IT, sales analytics and category management. A strong customer advocate, Jesse helps clients rethink their approach to service, markets and business segments. He is a leading thinker on OGSM strategy implementation.

How do you explain OGSM strategy to someone who has never used it?

OGSM addresses the biggest challenges with strategy. First, many people don’t understand that strategy is simply aspiration. The real challenge for most is the definition, prioritization and alignment of the work required to achieve that aspiration. As a tool, OGSM helps you articulate the work required to deliver strategy.

ArchPoint’s methodology gives an organization the capability to prioritize work and identify required resources. OGSM gives everyone involved the opportunity to keep the work visible and drive alignment throughout the organization. Finally, it offers the space to be selective about what to do next.

From your perspective, what are the benefits of using OGSM?

OGSM offers significant benefits for leaders who are trying to implement strategy. First, using OGSM strategy takes teams beyond articulating what they want to do — it helps leaders determine what the organization actually can do based on available resources. The biggest fallacy in strategy is that we don’t consider the available resources and capacity of an organization. We end up trying to drink from a fire hose and get nothing done.

Secondly, OGSM leads a team to articulate their strategy on one page. That one-page document is a great mechanism for keeping that strategy visible throughout an organization. I’ve seen teams put their OGSM on a poster in the middle of a hallway in an effort to keep that intent, that objective and those overall big picture goals exposed to an entire organization.

For you, was there a light bulb moment when you gained a greater appreciation for OGSM?

The biggest light bulb moment for me was when I stopped using it. I grew up in Procter & Gamble. OGSM is the tool that taught me strategy. When I left P&G and began working in more tactically oriented environments, I realized some organizations talk strategy but don’t keep it in the forefront or exposed to the team.

My ah-ha moment was recognizing how incredibly valuable OGSM was in correcting the areas where so many organizations failed when it came to strategy. When we started ArchPoint and were talking about OGSM, I had seen what things were like working with it and what they were like working without it.

How difficult is the process of developing an OGSM at a company that has not worked in it previously?

That’s a lot easier than what you’d think. When an organization hasn’t used OGSM, they’re almost in a constant search to keep strategy visible. One of the things we love when we do an OGSM for an organization that has never done it before is seeing that moment of realization — when you take all that data that’s been discussed and hashed out over two days and show it to them. All of the information is articulated on one piece of paper. They see it and say, “That makes all the sense in the world.”

What’s difficult about OGSM? What are some barriers or challenges of working in it?

Like anything else, the biggest challenge organizations have is finding the discipline to make it a part of their ongoing management routine — that’s the change of behavior we’re seeking. That’s the change management we want.

We’ve got two goals — the first is to have OGSM be the mechanism with which the team manages strategy. The second is for the team to honor the prioritization they’ve put in place. They’ve accessed and come to an agreement about the resources available. Honoring the prioritization requires the team not to allow themselves to work on one-off projects. Anytime someone starts adding priorities that weren’t previously agreed upon, the team has to say, “OK, if we’re going to do this, what aren’t we going to work on?”

What advice would you have for leaders considering OGSM?

At the end of the day, what I tell people is: Use OGSM or not. It’s entirely up to you. As a leader, if you’re not challenging your leadership team to elevate out of day-to-day activities so that they can orient themselves to the strategic comparatives required to move the business along, then you should consider OGSM — or another tool like it. Leaders have to rise above and manage from a strategic mindset. OGSM offers that.

From a leadership perspective, if you’re not managing from that perspective, then you’ve got a disconnected, disjointed leadership team with conflicting objectives. You’ll likely find great frustration in the organization because you’re not able to align in your objectives. And it’s at that point when people are always nodding their heads saying, “You’re absolutely right.”