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Our approach and philosophy on strategy

A successful process heavily relies on having great people in the right roles and their willingness to understand and agree on the following:

  • Purpose - Why do we exist as an organization? What do we want to accomplish? What will make us proud?
  • Culture - defining how the individuals we lead and other key stakeholders perceive the norms and expectations in the workplace.
  • Current state - defining exactly what we will be rewarded for (incentives) and how we are expected to behave as we meet our goals (behavioral expectations).
  • Outcomes - what are our goals and how will we measure success.

To do this well leaders must first understand themselves, question their own assumptions about what will or will not work and finally, arrive at a new self-conception that aligns with their new goals. In other words, determine how do we need to see ourselves differently and what needs to change to accomplish our goals.

A critical corner stone for building a solid strategy is clarity of purpose (what will make us proud). The conversations and thought that goes into this dialogue will establish a common ground to insure alignment. When added to vision (ideal future state 3-5 years out) and the mission (why we exist) will provide an organization a beacon to help guide the work, set priorities, establish outcomes and realign when needed. The process also creates accountability for individuals and the group as a whole.

We use the Organization Culture Survey designed to measure how people feel about the norms and expectations in their workplace. It provides us a baseline to understand how people compare their culture to superior performing cultures. It is a mechanism used to measure progress over time, identifies areas for change and helps to create a more integrated implementation plan.

Typically culture is overlooked and strategic implementations fail because no one paid attention to the realities of the culture, norms and expectations. These areas are integral to the planning process.

Current State
This part of the process focuses on gaining a unified understanding and agreement on the current state. The understandings and agreements greatly help to clarify and build a foundation to move ahead.

Some of the key questions we ask are as follows:

  • What is wrong with the way things are now?
  • What are the key issues/concerns that we are trying to fix?
  • Why bother changing the structure?
  • What are the business drivers that make us think we need to change?
  • What will happen if we do nothing?

By asking these questions we are creating the reason AND commitment for change. This dialogue helps to air a variety of viewpoints on the reality of their current state. We also use data to help support our current state understanding.

Outcomes/Results and Goals
Given our agreed upon issues, culture, purpose we then focus on defining the specific outcomes and strategic levers that will clarify the organization’s direction. Goals are defined by what we aim for. The outcomes are what we attain by reaching our goals. In other words, outcomes are our measures of success. Most planning processes focus on the activity, or the things people do in order to get to the outcomes. We focus primarily on the outcomes because those are what we are measured by.

Implementation Development
Every step of the way we are creating implementation plans that start the integration strategy process. The initial high-level implementation plan is created by the leadership team and then soon after, fully developed by the rest of the organization/division/department.

The implementation process consists of answering the following questions:

  • What are the mission critical issues we will address?
  • What are the mission critical outcomes (and goals) we want to attain?
  • What are the key agreements or milestones that we must reach in order to attain our outcomes?
The focus here is on integration of strategic outcomes, AKA constant refocusing on implementing the agreed upon plan. This may look like monthly leadership team meetings where we integrate the "key results/agreements" from the implementation plan into the agendas. It also may be a quarterly strategy meeting taking inventory of successes and refocus on strategic outcomes.(Sample questions are, "How are we doing? "What have we accomplished from our plan? "Where do we need to go from here?"