We translate the sometimes-esoteric strategic objectives into measurable goals to create tangible targets, build accountability, inform action plans, and make our strategy more understandable across the organization.
From Strategic Objectives to Objective Measures
As we described previously (and frequently), the purpose of strategy is to protect and extend our differentiators. It’s all based on how we delight our customers, which is what leads to the financial results that we desire. We quantify the customer value proposition by measuring certain attributes of our products and services, including functionality, quality, price, and time. We also measure our brand image and our customer relationships.
We define strategic objectives for how we want to delight our customers. We then identify the process changes required to achieve those objectives. Then, we determine the organizational structures, people, skills, systems, data, and culture needed to implement those processes.
When we state objectives like the ones in the list below, they may have a profound impact on our employees, but individuals are left wondering how to achieve these high-level outcomes.
- Be recognized as the most effective provider in our sector
- Establish processes that ensure quality and safety
- Build a culture of change readiness
We translate our strategic objectives into one or more measures. Some readers may know these as SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-boxed). Examples that we’ve used previously are:
- improve product reliability by 10% by the third quarter
- deliver our services 15% faster than our top competitor by the end of the fiscal year
- increase logo recognition by consumers to 81% this year
- increase brand favorability by 17% in the next six months
- improve customer satisfaction by 8% while reducing the cost of customer service by 4% before the end of the year
Creating these goals is the most challenging part of strategic planning for most organizations. I typically work with the CEO and direct reports to set mission, vision, values, ideal client, differentiators, and strategic objectives. Then, I like to engage the next couple of levels of the organizational structure to translate objectives into measurable goals.
There are three reasons for going deeper into the organization at this phase of the strategic planning process. First, it helps them understand the strategic objectives – which they will likely have to explain to their staff. Second, these people are closer to the operation and tend to be much more realistic than the most senior executives. Third, it creates ownership and buy-in. The people that define the goals are most motivated to achieve them.
We generally have one to three goals for each strategic objective. The challenge is to be sure our goals drive the behaviors that will delight our customers. We need to be sure we’re measuring the things that are true indicators of future business outcomes. We can’t be too operational or in the weeds.
Remember, these goals will be translated into action plans and personal performance objectives which will bring the strategy down into operational terms that the entire company can understand.
A data driven strategy translates high-level strategic objectives into measurable goals. These goals are the leading indicators of business performance. They also serve as an intermediate step between the sometimes-esoteric objectives (management speak) and the well-understood action plans and personal performance objectives (employee speak).
We’ll continue this theme of the data aware strategy as we explore the following in coming weeks:
- How will we align our entire organization with our strategy?
- Do our data assets reflect what is crucial to our strategy?
- How will we leverage our data to accurately predict future business outcomes?
As always, if you are working on your strategy already, or just don’t want to wait for the entire set of articles, email Emily Ford at Emily@WolffStrategy.com and she’ll be happy to set up a free 30-minute consultation with me.
Larry Wolff is the founder & CEO of Wolff Strategy Partners, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Enterprise Strategy Management, Digital Transformation, IT Leadership, and Executive Coaching. Larry has served as CEO, COO, CIO, Chief Digital Officer, and management consultant for public, private, international, and emerging growth companies. His specialties include corporate and IT strategic planning, technology led business transformation, business and IT turnarounds, merger integration and large-scale project rescues. His methodologies span industries and scale to companies of all sizes.
Feature image by pitinan from 123rf.com.
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