A once-off presentation to the full team after a leadership strategy session might have sufficed when organisations were more hierarchical. The execution of strategies would take place through instructions down the line manager system, with most workers not completely sure how their efforts contributed to the execution of the company’s strategy.
However, as organisations have transitioned to more decentralised organisations (read more about that here), the need to improve transparency around the organisation’s strategy and execution plan is also required. In addition to this, there are also many other benefits to promoting transparency in the workplace. It’s not just about communicating what the goals are, but also how the organisation is progressing towards these goals.
“Today, power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.”
Below are some practical ways to increase transparency around your organisation’s strategy and execution plan, as well as how OKRs can help with this process.
MAKE IT MEMORABLE
Handing your team over 100 pages on your strategy to read through is not going to be effective. Neither is a laundry list of everything that needs to get done over the next while. As much as we’d like to be like Akira Haraguchi, who holds the world record for the most decimal places of pi recited by memory, most of us can’t hold this amount of information in our minds at any one time. The more complex your strategy is, the higher the risk that your strategic message will be lost in translation.
The starting point is articulating your strategy in a simple manner – specific, clear, focused, powerful, and memorable. This will ensure that there is one consistent message that is communicated to the organisation and that is remembered by the organisation.
One way to do this is by creating a ‘strategy-on-a-page’ – which is a graphically pleasing one-page document that displays the key elements of your strategy. (Read more about a strategy-on-a-page here). It should be a living document, always remaining relevant, and should be memorable enough to stay front of mind for your team.
Adopting OKRs also helps with keeping execution plans focused and clear. Creating only 3–5 Objectives, with 3-5 Key Results each, for each quarter will help us remember what we need to be focusing on at any given time.
MAKE IT VISIBLE
Making your strategy and execution plan visible serves as a constant reminder to your team of where your organisation is going and how you’re going to get there. It not only reduces the chance of you straying off course but also increased alignment and engagement within your organisation and drives consistent messaging across your organisation (and externally in some cases).
Some of the ways that we’re seeing organisations making it visible include sticking the strategy-on-a-page on the wall for all to see, engraving the key elements onto stationery, making it your desktop background of virtual background for video calls, using it in multiple presentations within your organisation, showcasing it in all relevant meetings, etc. The point is that it needs to be seen often enough to remain front of mind.
MAKE IT HEARD
Just as seeing your strategy and execution plan regularly helps keep it front of mind, so does hearing about it. A quarterly or monthly town hall meeting is one forum to formally recap the strategy, however, it will need to be more organic to be heard on a more regular basis. To be effective in this regard, speaking about the strategy cannot come from the CEO only. Instead, a decentralised approach would work best whereby each team leader mentions elements of the strategy daily in various internal meetings, around the ‘corridors’ etc. This means that if 10 leaders each mention the strategy or execution plan at least three times a week, that will mean that it is mentioned in the organisation about 1 560 times a year. This is substantially more than once a month as would be in the case of a monthly town hall meeting.
MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE
Your team should be able to access the strategy and execution plan quickly and from anywhere. What does quickly mean? Perhaps in the time that it takes you to google something; a couple of seconds.
The best solution to making your strategy and OKRs accessible is through recording them and publishing them in a single obvious location using a cloud-based tool. There are an endless number of solutions in the market at the moment – from Google Sheets to GTMHub (a more advanced software that we work with regularly).
MAKE IT REAL
The above are all helpful and will assist in promoting transparency within your organisation, however, it’s not going to mean much in the longer term if:
- The actions of the organisation, and especially the leadership of the organisation, are not aligned with the strategy and execution plan being communicated
- There is no transparency in how the organisation is progressing toward this strategy
As mentioned earlier, it’s not just about communicating what the goals are, but also how the organisation is progressing towards these goals. This is where OKRs help – it breaks down your longer-term strategy into shorter-term goals that will drive action within a quarter/year. The OKR methodology focuses on measuring how you’re progressing your strategy through the scoring of Key Results. By promoting transparency of your OKRs and the progress thereof, your team will know how you’re executing on your strategy.
The worst thing that can happen is that you spend time and money on developing a great strategy, and then it gets forgotten in a drawer or lost somewhere in the cloud for months on end. Instead, you want an informed strategy with consistent messaging that your team can remember, that they understand and that they are driving daily. To do this, we recommend effectively communicating your strategy, breaking it down into shorter-term goals through a goal-management methodology such as OKRs, and being transparent about your progress in executing your strategy.
Get in touch if you want to chat about how to activate the execution of your strategy within our team or organisation.