"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it."

Robert Heinlein, Sci-Fi Author


99% of an organisation runs on autopilot. Even when top management think they are making decisions, they are often just part of the machine. To execute a strategy, our top management team needs to override the auto-pilot, seize the tiller and take charge of our own destiny.

Strategic Initiatives are our Executive team’s vehicle for mobilising our discretionary resources and applying them to change our direction. Strategic initiatives are the big multi-functional and often multi-year projects that are critical to the strategy. The management team will monitor and drive these at full pace.

In addition to the cross-functional initiatives, each separate function (e.g. IT, HR, Finance) will have to create their own long term plan to support it.


Questions to answer

Organization changes needed

● What are the gaps between where we are now and our future strategy?
● How will our organization need to change? How will we have to change our culture? Are there some simple rules to act as Catalytic Mechanisms?
● What IT/Systems/Infrastructure will we need to build?
● How will we manage our innovative experiments and our core business so that we can rapidly deploy successes at scale?

Planning Strategic Initiatives

● Do our strategic initiatives collectively address our biggest strategic issues? Will they enable us to achieve our ambitions? Will they position us for the future? Do we have initiatives targeting short term, medium term and long term growth?
● Have we set up our initiatives for success? Have we dedicated enough resources? Do we have our best people dedicated to our biggest opportunities?
● Are we trying to do too much? Would we be better off driving fewer initiatives more aggressively?
● What are the key assumptions underlying our strategy? Do we have fast/cheap experiments to test these?

Aligning the organisation

● Do we have clear Attack/Defend/Exit product/market priorities? Have we developed the strategy into detailed product/market sales and profit targets?
● Does the annual budget reflect not just these sales targets, but also the new resource allocation?
● Have we cascaded our strategic objectives into personal goals for our people?
● How can we communicate this strategy simply to the front line? What stories would bring it alive?

Example Framework: Initiative Milestones

Initiative monitoring should focus on milestones since it is much harder to establish accountability for activity.

Some milestones will be P&L goals. Others will be learning objectives - we will have explored new ideas and iterated.

Additional Frameworks