In 2014-2015, Haas was developing a 5 year strategic business plan using the OGST framework – Objective, Goals, Strategy and Tactics. I felt our team could use a similar approach for our strategic planning, and aligning our team’s individual performance goals to the school-wide OGST.
Here is an example of our Goals, Strategy and Tactics around academics:
Having used (and delivered against) this framework for the last two years to great effect, I thought it would be helpful to share some of our keys to success that enabled us to go from strategy to execution…and, more importantly, empower our team every step of the way.
Co-creation as a strategy to empower and align – It was important to me to engage the entire team from the beginning. We held a series of team meetings and off-sites to brainstorm ideas and identify key areas of focus. In year 2, we used a fantastic, free tool called Mentimeter to vote as a team on the subtactics/deliverables for each tactic. This enabled every staff member to have input and buy-in on our group’s strategy.
Leveraging people’s strengths – I was able to leverage people’s strengths in identifying tactic owners. At our mid-year staff off-site and again in year 2, each staff member took the Strengths Finder assessment. What I like about this assessment is that it focuses on the positive of what everyone brings to the table. We actively use the results from this assessment to align our tactics with everyone’s individual strengths (i.e. organizer vs. communicator).
Data is your friend, but validating assumptions is critical – As part of creating our strategy, our team analyzed data from our student satisfaction surveys to identify student pain points. This guided our team in developing our tactics. We later validated our assumptions through student focused town halls. What we found was that in some cases our team’s initial reaction to the survey results didn’t end up being the focus of our tactics.
Operationalize your strategy – A key to executing your strategy is operationalizing it with your team, which we were able to do in two ways: allowing people to share tactics, and scheduling regular, frequent staff meetings to work on our strategy. By having two people share a tactic it allowed them to collaborate while having distinct deliverables as part of their performance goals. Additionally, we set aside part of every other weekly staff meeting to focus on strategy. We then created a schedule for the entire year with an assigned tactic for each meeting (roughly two meetings per tactic). The tactic owners were responsible to use their assigned meeting time to get input from the rest of the team and brainstorm ideas on how to deliver on their tactics. My team felt this created more manageable time frames to accomplish their goals and kept everyone informed on our overall strategy progress.
Evolution vs. revolution – If done well, a 5 year plan using the OGST framework can allow your team to keep the Objectives, Goals and Strategies consistent from year to year. In turn, this consistency can allow your team to evolve the tactics and build upon your strategy. For example, within our academics strategy, we evolved the student advising tactic from proactive academic planning in year 1 to an holistic advising approach that coordinates our academic advising and career planning in year 2.
When we first started, our team was excited about our strategy but unsure whether we could deliver on all of our tactics. By the end of year 1, when we had a chance to reflect as a team, everyone felt a strong sense of accomplishment and pride in all that we delivered for our students. This was validated through the meaningful, positive results we observed in our most recent student satisfaction survey. While our OGST remains a work in progress, it is at the core of what we do and has been an invaluable tool for our team. By incorporating a team-based approach to strategic planning and some of these keys to success, I’m hopeful your own OGSTs can become invaluable tools for you as well.