“Success is not unlimited opportunity, but focused possibility.”
- Tom Paterson
Your experience with StratOp will be customized by your Guide. Below, we lay out the roadmap for a traditional installation of the StratOp process with a client, so you can understand the general flow and what happens at each stage of the journey.
PREP FOR ROUND 1
- We get a 2-day or 3-day slot on the calendar, to meet virtually or in person.
- We meet 8am to 5pm each day.
- Choose an environment that will work best for your team to engage.
- If meeting in person, we meet at your offices (or a space you use). Whether you choose to meet onsite in your conference room or at a retreat venue, the room should be comfortable and conducive to privacy, such that those attending can fully disconnect from day-to-day operations. This allows everyone to fully engage in StratOp.
The room should be set up in a horseshoe shape with tables and chairs and with the open end of the “U” facing a large, flat, blank wall. Ideally, this blank wall should have a large white board (minimally 4’ x 6 ‘). If it doesn’t have a large white board mounted on the wall, please arrange to have a whiteboard on a whiteboard stand at the front of the room. If possible, it would be great to have two portable single flipchart stands to each side of the whiteboard that have additional whiteboard space or space for hanging flip chart sheets. The rest of the walls should be large enough and conducive to tape up 25 pieces of flipchart paper on the walls.
We want high-level strategic, operational thinkers to attend. They should be able to think cross-functionally, be team-oriented, mature enough to lay their egos aside, and courageous enough to speak what they see and think. We do not want to get through our time together and say “If only this person had been there.” Less is more in terms of number of people. An ideal number is around 6-12 people. More important than the number of people in the room is the chemistry in the room. We want individuals who get along, know how to disagree fairly, and who are team players. Additionally, we want everyone who attends to be there for the entire time. Constant in and out from some or many of the attendees is disruptive to the process and flow.
- Please send any strategic documents, business plans, board reports, and financials that will help your Guide get up to speed on the organization. Any information shared will be held in the strictest of confidence. If needed, our Guides are happy to sign an NDA.
- As pre-work, please ask each attendee to complete a Four Helpful Lists and send those to your Guide one week before the Round 1.
- Begin thinking through who will champion the StratOp process internally for your organization. This person should be operationally proficient, highly skilled in setting and meeting deadlines for themselves and others, and carry organizational respect on your team.
We gather for 2 or 3 days (virtually or in-person) with the core team, and move through the first 3 phases of StratOp: perspective, planning, and action. We first guide the team through our suite of perspective tools, to gain clarity strategically, operationally, and financially. We then put a plan in place, built around your mission, vision, and values. Lastly, we create the core action plan, to get action teams moving forward.
The StratOp Champion is the “quarterback” of the organization’s StratOp. Their job is to motivate, manage, and measure progress of the StratOp as it is installed and executed throughout the year. They work with Senior Leadership and the StratOp Guide on a regular and ongoing basis, to ensure alignment and progress.
All of our work together will be transcribed into our online playbook platform. The online playbook is where you can track your progress against the plan we create. You can also invite and share the playbook. Future work will also be recorded here so we have a record of our strategy.
At the close of Round 1, we will release action teams to solve the cross-functional, strategic initiatives that are the most important for pushing the plan forward.
PREP FOR ROUND 2
Each Action Initiative Plan Leader will gather their team to create an Action Initiative Plan. Here are video instructions for conducting those sessions.
Each team leader will conduct a perspective exercise (SWOT Analysis or Four Helpful Lists) and create an Action Plan by filling out the attached template.
Collect the Action Plans and Perspective work for the teams. Look them over and ensure they represent the best work. Send them to your Guide one week before Round 2.
Each Team Leader should be prepared to present their Perspective Work and Action Plan to the StratOp leadership. Team leaders will present for a maximum of 15 minutes. The StratOp leadership team will then ask questions and provide feedback and edits. We almost always scrub each Action Plan. Supporting documents and supplemental decks should be kept to a minimum or distributed separately.
We will work digitally for most of Round 2. For in person meetings, please provide a projector or large display and create a food and drink plan. If meeting virtually, your Guide will present to the group via screen share.
We gather the StratOp leadership team again for a 1-2 day follow-up. We will need time to review all Action Initiative Team Perspective work and AIPs. The allotted time for each initiative should take into account the magnitude and scope of each initiative, and we will customize the agenda accordingly. Some initiatives may require 1.5 hours to review, others only 20 minutes. To close our time, we will discuss the StratOp next steps and plan launch strategy.
Present, review, and scrub Action Plans:
- Comprehensiveness: Is the Situational Analysis in full perspective? Has the team extracted all vital action out of the analysis?
- Sequential Thinking: Does the Action Initiative Plan make logical sense in the ordering of its action steps? Is each step driven by an action verb?
- Realistic Timelines: In light of the organization’s functional and cross-functional capacity, are the timelines realistic?
- Financed: If something is not in the operating budget, it is doomed for failure. It must be evaluated and resolved by the CFO before the plan can launch. Can we finance this plan?
- We must live within the reality of our capacity of time, staffing, and finances. Dovetailing all action steps will help a Core Lead Team do so.
- Once all Action Initiative Plans are scrubbed, dovetailing the timelines will help leadership visually see what lies before them.
Launch and Rhythm
- We will release the Action Teams to pursue their plans.
- We will also create a customized communication plan for rolling out the StratOp internally within the organization.
- Finally, we will establish a rhythm for management to keep the work on track.
We meet each quarter to ensure that we’re working on the right things, moving towards the stated vision, and staying aligned. If we don’t manage the plan well, all our hard work together can stall out. Management is key to successful execution and implementation of the strategic plan. Every quarter, we gain perspective, review our progress against the Action Plans, and update our progress toward the plan as a whole.
We design organizational architecture around the StratOp core plan, enabling it to effectively and efficiently fulfill its core strategies and strategic vision. In a good organizational design, everyone knows whom they are responsible to, and what they’re responsible for. A well-thought-out process for crafting and installing a new organizational design minimizes the fear of change. Our guided process takes into account the behavioral principles of communicating from an inner core outwards throughout the organizational design process.
One of the underlying principles of StratOp is Constant Adaptation. This is about taking a deep dive into our core plan and asking: what must change? For the annual renewal, you will need two full days with the team—it should include everyone who was in the room for the initial StratOp install, and any other leaders whom you’ve identified as needing to be there (for example, those who have joined the organization since the first StratOp). In the renewal, we rebuild some of the StratOp tools from scratch, and we review and scrub others.
In between the scheduled and structured time working on StratOp, your StratOp Guide is working with Senior Leadership and the internal StratOp Champion to ensure ongoing alignment, to keep the focus on what matters, and to help the team go after the highest-impact work and opportunities.
How can we help?