Step-by-Step Strategic Planning Process
You can focus your energy, people, money and resources anywhere, strategy is how you decide exactly where?
A strategic planning process is how you systemize and operationalise your ability to continually agree priorities that will realize your mission and vision.
The strategic planning process you follow will allow you to describe the markets or segments that you’re going to compete in and how you plan to win against your competitors. The implementation of your strategy requiring your strategy to be clearly articulated and goals to be set and then executed.
Strategic planning is not the annual budgeting battle that focuses on short term issues and maintaining the status quo, with incremental improvements on last year being the inevitable outcome, but no real plan to achieve them.
Across your organization there are issues and opportunities that need to be addressed. Each leader and manager will have a different perspective on these, based on their department’s function, and their own roles and responsibilities.
Strategy management is the process whereby these are listed and debated, and what matters most, agreed upon.
This means strategy is a social process, in the same way OKR creation is.
What becomes the focus of strategy and OKRs is part of a negotiation between leaders and managers, with the needs of the company and customers hopefully taking priority over the needs of any individual.
Which is why it is important that managers also play a part in the process and are not just there to do their business-as-usual activities.
You will also find that with inclusion you get better decisions being made, more buy-in, and more energy being directed towards your strategic aims.
The better you are at managing this process, and it is a process, the better your strategy and OKRs will be.
Which is why ZOKRI invests a lot into supporting the creation and socialization of strategy and goals, both those proposed for debate, and those that are agreed and resourced.
Ready to create your Strategy and OKRs using a tried and tested ten step process? Below is a 12 minute video for you to watch if you’d prefer to consume this information in an alternative way.
Otherwise, let’s read on and do it!
The first step in the planning process is to become mission, vision and purpose led. There has to be a sense of urgency around your mission. We want employees to be excited about what you’re trying to become.
So dust off your mission and see if it needs to be re-written.
A great mission is big, tightly defined, intense, clear, and exceeds in scope what the company has tried to do before.
For example, ZOKRI’s mission is to be the international authority on OKRs and the OKR software of record for fast growth companies.
Most organizations have the same set of generic business goals and KPIs.
Growth, profit, customer satisfaction, shareholder value etc.
So your high level strategic intent might be to:
In order to make significant progress on your generic KPIs you need to have clarity on how you intend to provide value to customers.
In the market or market segment you have chosen to play and compete in, you need to work out how you are going to serve those customers better than your competitors, and how you intend to move towards being the market or market segment leader.
How you will best serve those customers, and provide more customer value is dependent on your product and service offering.
For example, your might decide that you will focus on providing the:
Market Leadership and Customer Centricity is most companies Strategic Intent, and the KPIs that represent them makes a good top level annual Company OKR that acts as a scoreboard for what comes next, strategy.
Note that we probably should not set targets for this OKR yet as your strategy will inform what might be both reasonable and if you want to dial-up the ambition with stretch targets, aspirational.
It’s your strategy for achieving growth, profit, and customer satisfaction – better than anyone else in the market / market segment is where the real strategic planning work begins.
For the market, market segment and customers you serve, you now need to discover challenges or opportunities that are specific to your organization that are getting in the way of you winning, and winning should always be the aim of your strategy. To create a great strategy you don’t just take yourself away on a weekend retreat, you need to know and unlock what is in everyone’s mind over a number of weeks.
Good questions to consider to create this list are:
As you capture the answers to these questions you will see thematic clusters form.
These clusters will not be limited to just issues. They are likely to include blue-sky thinking and address external factors like competitors.
We suggest that you brainstorm on a whiteboard under headings like:
Use different coloured sticky notes for each heading and when all ideas have been captured, cluster them. Also see if you can create a hierarchy as you notice some clusters related to others and have supporting and causal relationships.
Now try to see and articulate ‘what is really going on‘ and create new headings for these new clusters.
For example, cluster hierarchies might have headings like:
What you have are candidates for your Strategic Pillars. These are the battlegrounds you are proposing to win in order to serve you customers better than anyone else in your market / segment.
This might be the time to take these pillars, issues and opportunities to wider groups to see if they are seeing the same things and there is a consensus.
You want to be as inclusive as is possible, without going down too many rabbit holes or disrupting teams too much.
It’s time to add one Annual Company OKRs that keeps score that measures lagging indicators like growth and customer satisfaction. Under this you can cascade the next tier of Annual Company OKRs based build from your Strategic Pillars.
For example a top level Company OKR for ZOKRI could be:
Stake our claim to being the market leading OKR software platform in 2022
With Three Key Results
Increase our growth rate from 150% Y-on-Y to 300%
Increase our customer retention from 92% to 95%
Land in the top right Gartner Quadrant
The belief is that this OKR will be achieved by resourcing and focusing on five Strategic Pillars.
The next step is to create Company OKRs for each of these Strategic Pillars using the same format, assigning an owner and collaborators to each.
Create more highly valued features and amazing UX so we win more deals
Increase our the conversion from demo to closed: won from 52% to 75%
Increase annual retention from 87% to 95%
Sell and serve customers that have the best fit
Increase the number of new deals that fit the ICP from 70% to 90%
Out innovate competitors and give customers better data using AI
Use AI to increase recommendation quality with accuracy increasing from 82% to 95%
Become Front-of-Mind / Become Go-To Trusted Brand – so we’re always being considered
Increase awareness of our brand and solution from 22% to 80% amongst out ICP
Increase the number of in-bound brand associated leads from 7% to 30%
Improve Employee Experience – so we hire and retain great talent as we grow
Increase our employee NPS from 78 to 90
Increase our staff retention from 87% to 95%
Increase offer job acceptance rate from 75% to 90%
Reduce our time to hire from 14 weeks to 8 weeks
PRO TIP: Not everyone is the company is working on strategic company OKRs, but there are things they can do to help business operations and existing systems and processes work more effectively. Achieving these goals would also contribute to revenue etc. So you could allow these improvements to be proposed as OKRs via an additional “non strategic” Company OKR. Something like:
Make continuous improvements, learn new skills, improve systems and processes that make us efficient and effective
Measure progress based on the average of all of the OKRs linked to this Objective, focusing on OKRs that are at risk and need support.
This gives teams that are often less strategic by nature like Finance and Legal a way to improve. In fact, everyone not involved in the strategic OKRs could be encouraged to spot opportunties for improvements.
You’ve got your Strategic Pillars, OKRs and your issue and opportunity map.
It is time to draft aligned Objectives, Key Results & Initiatives for the upcoming Quarter in ZOKRI.
The debates that should be happening in and across teams are going to be around:
ZOKRI can manage the whole process for you, including the presentation and data capture of questions like the ones above.
You can now make your ‘go’ or ‘don’t go’ decisions by launching OKRs, or leaving them as drafts for now.
If you want to roadmap OKRs for the quarters, that’s fine. Some companies do that as well in ZOKRI.
Finally, here are some extra OKR implementation tips:
You’re now ready to launch your OKRs to the whole organization. It’s time to dial-up the energy and urgency.
Your OKRs will be in ZOKRI and progress, plans, problems and wins will be there for everyone to see and support.
This all too rare level of strategy, goal and executional plan clarity and transparency will be transformation.
The key to executing your Strategy is to set and stick to your OKR cycle with weekly check-ins, team meetings, OKR retrospectives and new OKR drafting all being defined, scheduled and mandatory in ZOKRI.
Every organization and team has a group of KPIs that are Key Performance Indicators.
KPIs at the Company and Team Level should be tracked to ensure general business operations are running smoothly and issues are spotted.
These KPIs also give you the ability to recognize teams and individuals for improving and maintaining levels of performance outside your strategically aligned OKRs.
KPIs can be tracked, shared and reported on as part of a wider Performance Management process in ZOKRI, in addition to being associated with Key Results and Strategic Pillars.
We hope this has inspired you to create and execute an amazing strategy using OKRs and ZOKRI.
If you have any questions or you’d like to try our amazing software, let us know.
If you’d like our coaches to train you in OKRs and facilitate planning meetings, also let us know.
We would like to support you and be part of your growth story.
NO, we would love to support you.