The top 5 considerations before you introduce OGSM to your organisation

In the past two years, particularly around the time when the Covid impact started to decrease, I have met several senior leaders facing a similar dilemma:  “How can I realign my scattered organisation using some systematic strategy execution framework?”

During our first discussions, we started the same themes emerging that I summarised below. Since our company, onTarget is specialized in the OGSM strategic planning and execution framework, this is the methodology I will refer to the most.

So what are the Top 5 considerations before you introduce OGSM or any strategy and execution-focused methodology to your organisation?

1. Clarity on Roles and Responsibilities across the organisation
2. Creating a strategy without a clear and aligned Vision will at best preserve what you have
3. Your organisational culture will be key in making your strategy work
4. Introducing OGSM is not about creating a Strategy that you capture once and put it into your drawer
5. Strategy will come to life in the execution of agreed plans

So, let’s talk about them in detail:

1. Clarity on Roles and Responsibilities across the organisation.

Especially in smaller, more junior organisations we experience that there’s some unclarity about responsibilities. Many people can do the same things and it’s not always clear whose job it is to do something. Many times the work is done based on previous experiences or expertise but failing to create clear accountability and ownership. We notice people doing some work as a “favour” which sometimes leads to misunderstandings or even tensions between colleagues. 

This is natural part of the evolution of enterprises. While initially clarity on roles and responsibilities is not critical, as the team grows we need to get clear about who is responsible for what part of our work. This is a key foundation that allows us to have a strategy that accountably owned by individuals across the organization. 

To be successful here we need to define the key work areas or processes we do regularly, the key roles around those processes. Then we need to identify what makes a person executing a role successful. In other words: how does a person playing that role will know that she does that job well? What outcomes we expect from the role?

Key questions to answer:

Can our people clearly articulate who is responsible for what?
Are there any regularly, repeatedly done tasks or processes that are done by someone as a “favour”?
Do each of the roles in our team have an agreed outcome?
What is the level of internal service mentality in our organization?


2. Creating a strategy without a clear and aligned Vision will at best preserve what you have. 

Recently I had a client that asked for a strategy development session. When I asked “a strategy for what?” there was an awkward silence in the room. Finally they responded: “Well, a strategy to decide what we need to do?” I did not give up: “A strategy to decide what you need to do in order to achieve what?” – I pressed on.

We quickly realised that there’s no clear picture of what they want to achieve. More specifically, how a desired future would be different from the current reality? If we do not have a clear view on this, people still can talk about strategy but that strategy will most likely will preserve the current reality. At best those strategies aim to “protect” what they currently have. “Just maintain the status quo.” “Secure our business.” In my experience even in those situations you need to establish some Vision about how do you expect the environment to change in which we plan defend your business successfully. And for that defence, you probably need to establish things that you currently do not have.

Key questions to answer:

Do we talk about where we want the company to be in 5 years?
Do we talk about what capabilities we do not have today that is needed for the 5 years picture?
What results are we expecting that we are not having today? 
What do we expect to change vs what we have today? 
What capabilities are we expecting to have that we do not have today?
Are we in the same boat? Can some members of our Leadership Team win while the company is losing?


3. Your organisational culture will be key in making your strategy work.

I see many leaders assuming that they can get the most out of their teams using  last century’s “carrot and stick” leadership methods and culture. As a result, senior leaders develop corporate strategy and ‘deploy’ it to the employees. While this is certainly more fruitful than not even having a shared strategy where it fails short is around engagement. Our employees have hard time taking ownership over the strategy, they do not initiate and they do not even notify us when the strategy does not work.In fact for a strategy to be successful you can make a massive difference if you are able to treat your colleagues as partners. Partners who understand the big picture, who see themselves actively contributing to making the organization successful. 

Establishing this partnership takes effort and time to establish. However, once in place, you can involve your key people into creating the strategy and identifying the key Initiatives that are needed to bring the results you desire.

Key questions to answer:

Do my people know what do we want to achieve and why?
Are we assigning work to people or they are volunteering to contribute?
Do we need to “sell” the strategy and the work to our people? Is motivation an issue?


4. Introducing OGSM is not about creating a Strategy that you capture once and put it into your drawer. 

I see this happening over and over again. A Leadership Team develops a strategy that they are aligned on. They place into a (shared) folder with a name called something like “Strategy 20xx”.  And that’s it.

They might open it later in the year, usually around November, to validate what they have done and many times they realise that their actual actions during the year quickly deteriorated from that strategy. Their environment, their competition, their market, their internal capabilities changed during the year but they have not updated the strategy to take that into account.

Regular strategy review and renewal is a crucial element of running your company.

Key questions to answer:

What is the frequency and forum when we discuss our strategy?
How do we reflect internal or external changes in our strategy?


5. Strategy will come to life in the execution of agreed plans.

For your strategy to make a real business impact you will need to follow it up with actual work that will bring the strategy to life. Many, if not most of this work are beyond your business as usual activities: they create new capabilities for your organisation that are essential to achieve future results. As part of your Strategy work you identify, prioritise, regularly review those initiatives.

Once you established the rhythm of strategy execution you will also see that some of your strategies do not work. Some other strategies are fine but execution is not happening as planned. Either case you will intervene during the year, making sure you are getting the results you envisioned.
Key questions to answer:

Is your top and middle management able to execute what has been agreed?
Are the most important projects in line with our strategy?
Do we work on projects that are not in our strategy?
Did we identify key projects to be done as part of the strategy, that actually never took off?


How can you prepare to implement a strategy framework? We know the answer.