By Timothy M. Opsitnick, an EO Cleveland member and senior partner and general counsel of Jurinnov Ltd.
When we were a smaller organization of a half-dozen or so, it was easy for us to share our company vision. We knew each other’s strengths and preferences, and managed our strategy over weekly donuts and the monthly all-hands lunch meeting. However, when we grew—more clients, projects and team members—we had less time for administration, less natural communication and less control.
That was when I knew our organization needed a map to show everyone where we were headed and how we would get there. We needed a vivid picture of our destination detailing where and how we would travel and work together along the journey. Team members needed to understand the company goals, and know the role each would play in meeting them as individuals and as a team.
We began working together to create our actionable, outcome-based strategy: a two-page description of the why, where, what, how, who and when of meeting our company and individual goals. We all met with a facilitator to work through documenting our current business state and brainstorming the company we wanted to be. We formed our strategy around our company foundation by documenting our never-changing core values (our essence of being), purpose (why we are in business) and our envisioned future (a description of what company life will be like in the future).
Next, we documented our long-term (3-5 years) targets: financial, areas to dominate, priorities, critical numbers, and our brand promise to clients. We also conducted a SWOT analysis to document our agreed upon strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Finally, we were ready to document our goals and planned actions for the year and the quarter. We documented our critical metrics and also a handful of priorities necessary to reach our outcome targets for the year (revenue, clients, etc.), dominate our sandbox and deliver on our brand promises. The real test, however, was how to give the strategy life!
We used the company strategy to drive individual goals that team members documented in their personal plans for the quarter. Individual goals needed to point to the company strategy and company goals needed to be covered in the aggregate by the personal plans. Over the years, we have engaged the strategy each quarter by reviewing how well we have met our company goals and establishing goals for the next quarter. Equally as important, each team member has developed their own contribution report for the previous quarter, and has committed to milestones that they will achieve in the upcoming quarter. On an annual basis, we focus again on our one-year and long-term strategy. In addition, team members combine their quarterly contribution reports for the year as primary input to their annual performance reviews.
This has become our way of running the business. We plan our work on a monthly, weekly, even daily basis, driven by the commitments that we have made to each other as documented in our company strategy and personal plans. No matter what comes our way—high growth, economic rightsizing, and everything in between—we have a tool to communicate where we are, where we are going and each team members’ role in getting us there. Sure, we do not always meet every goal, but we know where we are headed and are able to effectively communicate with one another our commitments and achievements.