How to write a strategy that will work in any environment
This article is for those who planned to develop a strategy but still did not do it, and now have to finally take it up, and for those whose strategy was not tightly connected with the tactical movement and daily tasks and does not work well in the current conditions.
With this article, you can quickly develop a viable and responsive strategy, not just another document that will gather dust on Google Drive. And also make the company’s strategy work every sprint and every day in any conditions. Well, make sure that it helps to develop not only the company but also the employees.
Convince everyone that without changes, the company will not continue to exist and develop.
Show everyone the results of your research, proving the existence of real defocuses in the team. Explain how the situation will change with the advent of the strategy.
Form a team strategy. Do it at a strategic session. At the decisive meeting, people are included; everyone is involved in decision-making. Everyone understands what and where it came from. So the strategy will not be something brought from above or transmitted “from behind a mahogany partition.”
Write down only the goal and strategic rates. Do not write the manuscript. Choose a goal for the period that you have designated for yourself. Usually, a strategy is thought out for a year, two or three in advance.
Formulate bids and divide them by direction. The strategy should be based on data so that it can be easily turned into activity. Create an approach based on market and competitor analysis, your results in specific metrics. Without data, the strategy will be naturally beautiful words that mean nothing and are quickly forgotten.
Present your company strategy well. An appealing presentation and an easy-to-read document are required. Amaze everyone!
Get ready to ask many questions. One must continuously ask: “Do you remember where we are going?” At each OKR slice, when planning each sprint, you need to ask yourself questions: “Does this correspond to our strategic rates? And this will lead us to where we want? Will this happen in the time that we have determined?”
To ask the same questions all the time is tiring, but they help to run faster and in the right direction.
How to decompose a strategy correctly: strategic, tactical and operational objectives
The company’s strategy exists at three levels: strategy, tactics, and operational processes.
What is at different levels:
• strategic (at the company level): goals + vital rates;
• tactical, medium-term planning (at the company and team levels): quarterly OKR, monthly cuts on them;
• operational (at the level of teams and individual guys): daily processes – setting sprints (1-2 weeks) and their implementation. This may include processes associated with the development of software, for example.
A strategy works as it should only when all three levels are sequentially interconnected. In essence, a policy is expressed in tactics and tactics in OSes.
This bundle ensures that the movement towards strategic goals will not be interrupted. If there is no quarterly, monthly, or weekly planning, the connection is lost, and the strategy does not work well for your SaaS product or other company activity..
Tactical Level: OKR
Trying to shift the approach to OSes immediately leads to the fact that you do not know what to do every day to achieve goals. Therefore, the level of tactics appears. At this level, OKRs are formed.
OKR (Objectives and key results) are vital goals and results for the period.
What OKR is made of:
Objective – the target for the OKR period. Ambitious, challenging to achieve, focusing. Each such goal should have 2 to 5 key results.
Key result – methods or ways to check the achievement of the goal. Unambiguous, provable, transparent.
Initiatives – significant changes, internal projects, or broad hypotheses that should lead us to a big goal.
OKR can be quarterly or monthly. Sometimes OKR is called a strategic planning tool, but it is not. OKR is tactical planning. OKRs are usually expressed in metrics. And this is their difference from rates: if OKR is numbering, then prices are something that cannot be digitized.
The decomposition is as follows: strategy – for the year, tactical goals – for the quarter. Tactical objectives should help achieve strategic goals. Then quarterly OKR and OKR for a month are set.
Operational level: sprint tasks and daily processes
Sprints and weekly planning are built so that the team can achieve monthly OKR. It works well for long-run collaborated teams, as for a new team configuration. Yet, a good option to optimize planning is using recruitment automatization to make the process smooth.
How decomposition works at this level:
• formulate quarterly OKR;
• give the team time;
• each participant takes the initiative;
• the whole team decides how to distribute the tasks;
• agree on dates for specific tasks.
When there is OKR, you know from the level of the entire company and, ideally, to each person, what and in what time frame you need to do to increase specific indicators.
How to not forget about the strategy
Stake bets and OKR
It is necessary to make sure that their list can always be accessed. Best of all – if they are still before your eyes. Stuck them wherever you can.
Open and honest communication is helpful. The more often one of the team reminds about the bets, the faster they are remembered by all the others. At first, these will be those who took part in their development. But over time, if all tasks are discussed from this point of view, they will all be remembered.
Controversial rates also need to be addressed. One of the advantages of this format of the strategy is that the company remains flexible and does not follow one procedure for ten years. If you see that any of the bets is not working, then it can be reviewed – after discussion and based on the data. This can be done based on a quarter or six months.
Check any task against strategic rates.
You need to continually ask yourself and the rest of the team many questions:
• where are we;
• what we are doing and why;
• where are we going;
• where to go;
• what to do and what not;
• whether this or that task corresponds to strategic rates.
Moreover, regardless of whether you came up with this task yourself or received from someone.
Make regular slices OKR
We make such slices once a month, and sometimes every sprint.
Build people-to-people agreements and tasks
And most important: at the tactical and operational level, bureaucracy works. There should not be tasks and projects suspended in the air — each task should have a master, and it should be clear how it affects the movement towards a common goal.
How to train strategic thinking
Capture Goals and Results
Each hypothesis and task should have the expected result. The more often you compare the expected result with the obtained reality, the more accurately you will learn to predict the achievement of goals. At the same time, it is necessary to put forward ideas all the time, generate hypotheses, and provide for temporary resources and a budget for their verification.
Analyze results and prerequisites and develop systemic thinking
By developing systemic thinking and personal awareness, you are developing strategic thinking. Learn to find patterns and relationships between events that occur around you, consistently practice searching for cause-effect relationships, draw conclusions, taking into account the interconnectedness of events.
Start with tactics
The right approach: start the tactical movement first, and then move on to the strategic one. So you will learn how to plan goals and achieve them together and avoid frustration due to the unattainability of the strategic intent and the team’s unpreparedness for the chosen pace.
The need to formalize the strategy, as a rule, does not arise immediately, but as the company grows – as the product develops and the team expands.
While you are a small startup, everything is simple – you communicate daily, you are on the same wavelength, decisions are made together, there is the opportunity to discuss the most important of them together. But now you are already 20, 30, 40. And not everyone can answer the question of what you are doing and why, what the company has a goal, who are the key customers, what market you aim at, and so on.
Features begin to appear randomly, marketing is less and less related to the product, sales are trying to sell everything to everyone. You feel that the teams and people inside the teams are out of focus, each has his own vision, everyone runs in different directions. Your speed decreases, and the team loses motivation.