Frustrated with Strategy
As I often do, I like to lead with a point of frustration expressed in a recent conversation with a leader, “We’re measuring a lot of things, and we’re getting things done. I’m just not sure what we’re doing is having the impact we need.” I guess the only thing more frustrating than doing nothing is not knowing if what you’re doing is achieving the outcomes and effects you need. Success will always be fleeting if you can’t measure your strategy performance.
“It’s all about amassing resources on as few things as possible… that’s when you get momentum.” ~Frank Slootman
Frank goes on to discuss that you’re already dead if you spread your resources a mile wide and an inch deep. His team is constantly narrowing the plan of attack. Many organizations can’t get out of their own way because they’ve got too much going on simultaneously.
In today’s fast-paced world, you need to accelerate change, or you’ll lose. The highest levels of the United States Air Force (USAF) have made this their rallying cry. However, there’s a catch. It’s ill-advised to just start accelerating change, which is certainly not what the Generals in the USAF are implying. The unspoken key to success is in how you start. Below are three critical steps to ensure you design your strategy work to achieve intended outcomes and effects.
1. The Importance of Strategy Governance
Lead with Governance. While it may sound boring, organizing how you’ll implement strategy utilizing a proven governance structure is the best path forward. So why is governance so important when measuring performance? In large organizations, work gets performed by stakeholder teams, teams of teams, and even teams of teams of teams. For example, without governance, it becomes impossible to know how a deliverable seven sub-levels below will impact a Line of Effort for a division of the Air Force. Governance is how you’ll know micro-actions achieve the macro impact you desire.
2. Creating a Strategy Baseline
Establish a Baseline. It is impossible to know if your actions have achieved the desired outcome if you don’t measure where you started. This fact holds true for strategy work that is seemingly going well and strategy work that’s failing. It’s not just about setting a target for what you’ll accomplish. Instead, decide what you’ll need to achieve to deliver meaningful results. Establish a baseline for where you are now. Document the strategies you believe will affect achieving your desired outcome AND the assumptions that led you to believe in such strategies.
3. Monitoring Your Strategy Performance
Monitor a Trendline. It should go without saying, but you can’t monitor a trendline without establishing a baseline. While this may sound obvious, many organizations set Key Results without establishing the specifics to determine if the Key Result achieved the desired outcome. To ensure your team monitors a trendline correctly, start with the baseline and monitor incremental progress. As you progress, measure if what you’re achieving is delivering the desired results. Continue trendline monitoring until assumptions are validated or refined. Once the trendline demonstrates your strategies are working, your team will be ready to transfer your new process to ongoing operations.
Apply these three best practices to ensure you design a strategy to better monitor strategy performance and see transformational results faster.