I’ve recently been sharing how you can carry out a 6-Day Strategy for your business. I’ve already covered Day 1 on your Current Position, Day 2 on Future Possibilities, Day 3 on Setting the Direction and Day 4 on Defining the Organisation.

The objective of the Day 5 of The 6-Day Strategy is to determine your agenda for action. In this session, you will agree and define your top 3-6 strategic objectives, the critical themes that you will focus on over the next few years to deliver your #1 goal and turn your strategy into reality. Put simply, it sets out what you need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

There are six steps to follow to determine your strategic priorities:

  1. Introduce a wider team. During the first four days, I prefer to work with a smaller team of, say 6-12 executives. We get input from others, but I’ve found that more radical options and ideas are created with a smaller set of participants. On Day 5, however, you are shifting from the ‘what’ of your strategy to the ‘how’. As a result, you will need to start to engage the wider organisation. Inviting a wider group of managers, briefing them on the work so far, getting their feedback and then involving them in developing the agenda and key actions is a great way to build wider ownership for the strategy.
  2. List all the things you need to do. The first task is to review the outputs of the previous four days’ work and to list out the key things the organisation needs to deliver in order to execute the strategy. I get the group to spend 15-20 minutes to write each objective or task on a sticky note and put it up on the wall. These are specific, actionable objectives but are not the detailed action plans. We typically get a list of around 20-30 objectives that need to be delivered and it’s worth going through all the work you’ve done to date to make sure that you have captured all your thinking and conclusions.
  3. Group the objectives into strategic objectives. You then need to group these sub-objectives into a smaller set of strategic priorities. As a group, review each theme and ask yourselves if each priority its position as a on your strategic agenda. Is it really ‘mission critical’ to the delivery of your strategy and your #1 goal? I believe that a list of 3-6 strategic objectives is preferable. Any more and it becomes far harder to communicate or organise around.
  4. Establish initial accountabilities and teams. The leader of the group should then lead a discussion to assign initial accountabilities and ownership for each objective. As far as possible, I believe that you should spread the accountabilities across your executive team as that builds involvement and ownership. Once done, you can then assign the other members of the working group to one of the objectives, based on their particular expertise.
  5. Define the goals and objectives of each strategic objective. The sub-teams can now work on the details of each of the priorities. I ask my teams to spend an hour or more considering the following questions:
    • What is the key objective of this objective and what does it need to achieve to deliver its part of the strategy?
    • What is the #1 performance goal of this objective and what are the other key performance indicators?
    • What are the critical performance milestones – specific results and/or key ‘deliverables’ with dates – of this objective?
  6. Align goals and timings. Each team reports back to the wider group, receiving feedback and constructive challenge. The aim is to maximise the speed and impact of deliver, but, equally to ensure that the outline plans are achievable. At this stage, I also work with the group to build a two- or three-year milestone plan, as set out below, to ensure that there is reasonable alignment in the timings of deliver across the priorities and that, taken together, the agenda will deliver against your wider strategic goals.

Day 5 of the 6-Day Strategy is often one of the most energizing of the whole process. You are turning conceptual ideas into pragmatic actions and, for most executives, this is when the strategy starts to feel real. You’ve also involved a wider group, so the sense of a shared mission and the excitement of making real change and improvements for the business will also grow.

At the back of everyone’s mind, however, will be a set of concerns about whether you can really pull this off. Addressing these concerns is the focus of Day 6 of the 6-Day Strategy, so that you are fully prepared for launch, and that is what we will cover next.

© Stuart Cross 2020. All rights reserved.