When you're thinking about rolling out Strategy Deployment in your organization, it can be intimidating to know exactly where to start, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to set yourself up for success right from the beginning. I've recently written an eBook that covers these questions, as well as information about the software you need to enable Strategy Deployment, that you can download here:
But I thought that today on the blog, I'd give you a sneak peak into one of the chapters of the book covering the formula for successful Strategy Deployment.
Step 1. Define "True North"
The goal of Strategy Deployment is to have every single person in the organization pointed in, and actively working toward, the same goal referred to as “True North." If this is so, it stands to reason the first step of implementation would be to define what True North is for the organization.
In many cases, the mission, vision, and values of the organization are already defined and understood, but for some, it may be necessary to begin by formally writing these down to gain consensus and buy-in. Even if these already exist, it is a good idea to take the opportunity of beginning Strategy Deployment to assess them to see if they are aligned with the desired state of the company.
Once the mission, vision, and values are solidified, True North categories that define a consistent path forward must be developed. Some examples of such categories are: safety, quality and customer satisfaction, innovative products, and financial stability. This isn’t about creating a laundry list of possible improvements that would be nice to have, as too many goals will be counterproductive, de-emphasizing the essential tasks a company must achieve for success and stretching efforts too thin. True North planning should center around three to five goals that are truly strategic.
Once defined, everything throughout the organization should be aligned to this True North.
Step 2. Develop Breakthrough & Annual Objectives
The Strategy Deployment process is designed around the idea that you need to achieve short term objectives and reach long term goals. The short term and long term also need to be in alignment. Therefore, goals should include some that are incremental and others that represent significant, dramatic changes for the organization.
In the Hoshin Kanri methodology, longer term goals are called breakthrough objectives. Breakthrough objectives usually take three to five years to achieve. They should be directed at significant performance improvements that often change the way the organization, a department or key business process operates. They address issues like profitability, growth, business blockers, such as poor quality and customer satisfaction concerns, or they may involve the introduction of a new product or service.
It is still wise to be narrow and focused when deciding on breakthrough objectives. Each true north category should have a small number of breakthrough objectives associated with them, which you should stick to. It's better to have a dozen or so small goals that can be tracked closely by senior leadership than hundreds of goals that can get lost amongst each other. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.
Annual objectives include the milestones that will need to be met in each year to achieve the three-to-five year breakthrough objectives as planned. For example, if the goal is to introduce a new product in three years, it may be necessary to complete a market research study and define the product requirements during the first year. Each objective should be paired with a means of measuring success and fit into True North goals via the breakthrough objectives.
Step 3. Cascade Goals Throughout the Organization
After True North and high-level objectives have been set, it is time to create alignment throughout the organization by breaking each one down into local-level goals.
Front-line staff and managers should have local goals and objectives that fit into the True North categories. The goals do not need to be the same, but there should be one or two measures for each True North category.
Step 4. Develop Strategies, Projects, and Tactics
This is where the rubber meets the road in Strategy Deployment. In this phase goals and objectives are broken down into realistic and measurable projects for very individual, team, and department. Every strategy, project, and tactic should be aligned with the larger, more strategic annual and breakthrough objectives for the organization.
For each objective, KPIs that allow management to track progress should also be developed. Remember that what gets measured gets done, so choose KPIs that drive the change that you want. KPIs can (and should) scale down across the organization so that managers at all level are tracking and reporting on the metrics that tie their location's improvements to the strategic goals of the organization. Standardizing the way you measure and report on KPIs across departments is also critical to achieving true organizational alignment.
Step 5. Monthly & Annual Reviews
It’s not enough to set goals, create projects, and assign KPIs. Progress reviews are necessary both to maintain momentum and ensure any need to pivot goals or tactics is uncovered quickly.
Annual reviews allow leaders to assess the likelihood of achievement of breakthrough objectives. If necessary, pivots and adjustments can be made to the next cycle or resource deployment can be reconsidered.
Monthly reviews are also essential to keep the organization engaged in the execution of the plan. For the human brain, one year is a long time to hold a project in mind and invites procrastination. Revisiting and assessing progress monthly can keep the plan at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Reviews also give managers a chance to recognize and address stalled progress.