what’s required to execute your strategy successfully?

Finding answers to this question is what we do at The OKR Group. All day long 🙂 And here’s one of the answers we find a lot: Creating a language that resonates.

If everyone in your team speaks the same language, it will significantly increase your speed of execution. Let me introduce you to the language that we find resonates with teams over and over again.

Or in other words, if you want to achieve big things, apply the following.

PS – the language can be applied in your personal life, your team, or your organisation.

the strategy pyramid.

We use the pyramid to build strategies that balance stability in direction and agility in responses. More than this, the strategy pyramid creates the consistent language I mentioned.

Let’s start in the middle: Strategy is a set of coherent, actionable choices defining how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.

(Getting a group of people to agree on a definition of strategy is basically an insurmountable task. So please feel free to disagree with my definition!)

Before you get to strategy, you need two things.

purpose:

Why do you exist? Why do your teams come to work? What are you passionate about? What makes you tick?

Studies show that people who work for a purpose-driven organisation are 50% more engaged.

Purpose is also known as the north star or the mission statement.

No surprise that this leads to more effective strategy execution. People are engaged!

Conditions: Make it inspirational and engaging.

Google’s purpose: Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

ambition:

What do you want to achieve? Where do you see yourself, your team or your organisation in 5 years?

Articulating a time-bound ambitious goal increases the probability of significant progress.

Also known as the BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), a moonshot or the vision statement.

Conditions: Make it time-bound and specific but still aspirational.

Microsoft’s original ambition: A computer on every desk in every home.

(Not sure if they had a timeline linked to that; I recommend you set one.)

Then strategy.

strategy:

What significant shift is required to realise your ambition? Where do you need to place your focus?

Your strategy accounts for your internal capabilities and the external environment. It reflects the critical choice or set of choices your organisation is making.

Very important: Making trade-offs will be necessary. Don’t think you can achieve something significant without a trade-off.

Conditions: Make it thematic and directional. The days of detailed 3–5-year roadmaps are over.

Example: Adobe’s strategy in the early 2010s was “from Suite to SaaS”. And they had themes (i.e. strategic choices) to enable that shift.

goals:

What does success look like in the next year and next quarter?

These are your OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). They ensure we move towards our ambition in smaller, measurable steps.

They are, however, not the tasks we need to complete. Instead, they are our goals, the measurable business value we need to add.

Conditions:

For Objectives, make them inspirational and aspirational, answering “What will success look like?”—maximum of 5 objectives at any level.

For Key Results, make them specific and measurable, answering “How will we know if we’ve met our objective?”—maximum of 5 key results per objective.

actions:

What will you do in the next increment to meet your OKR? Who will do what by when?

We often default to task management and productivity – there are a bunch of tasks on our desk, so what do you do? Start ticking them off, or stop and think about your purpose, ambition, strategy and goals?

Unlikely to be the latter.

Over time, your tasks will align more and more with the strategic elements as you use and apply the pyramid at different junction points.

Resist the urge to start doing. Instead, ensure your goals are set up correctly, to execute on your strategy, in pursuit of your ambition, to fulfil your purpose.

If you have questions, we’re always keen for coffee.

Get in touch so that we can brainstorm a few solutions together!

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