The first step in the process is establishing direction via the Executive Team. Every organization has three key processes; business development, business operations, and business support. Each of these functions require a key leader to provide direction to their organization.
First meet with the head of the organization, Chairman, CEO, President, Owner, Director, etc. The objective of the meeting is to establish their goals personally and organizationally. Next we establish the executive team or cross functional decision making body. If there is a board of directors we would want to start with that group first, if not, we go directly to the executive team.
In the first meeting with either group we identify the true "Mission" of the organization. I'm not interested in a fancy mission statement, only the true "Purpose" of why this organization is functioning. This should take between 15-45 minutes. In an organization with 7 board members that operate a $600 million budget, we were able to do this in 45 minutes. It typically is only 3-5 short phrases that embody the "why" the organization is in existence. For most this is contrary to what you've been lead to believe is necessary through our graduate courses or high dollar consultants that get paid tens of thousands of dollars to make this 3 month process. The key is simplicity is elegance, the less verbiage you can use that explains the Why for the employees and customers, the quicker buy in can occur.
Next we establish the Goals of the organization explaining the Why, of which at the highest level, can only be 3-4. Typically, something about the Employees, Customers, Money and Community. This is where we support the mission through identifying goals that are in direct alignment and clarify what the short mission statement phrases mean.
Next we identify what the Objective measures will be that ensure we are meeting the Goals. Objectives must be the high level Global measurements that tell us whether we are making progress toward the Goals or not. This is where the digital dashboard concept comes in. We use If/Then logic, if we write one objective, we ask ourselves, If we meet this Objective Then we inevitably will reach our goal, if the answer is yes, we're done, if no, we go to the next Objective. We continue with this until we can say Yes, this typically encompasses somewhere between 3-7 Objectives per goal.
Next we explain How we will reach the Objective by writing the Strategies necessary to accomplish the Objective. Again, using If/Then logic until we have all of the Strategies necessary.
Finally we list the Tactics that support the Strategies. Tactics must also be measurable in some form, whether it is a specific measurement supporting the Objective or simply a timeline. Tactics are designed for Accountability, they tell us the Who, When and Where. This is the Follow Through piece of the GOST Tool that ensures we will reach our goals.
Why is the GOST tool Unique?
What differentiates this process from others is that the GOST is used at various levels of the organization, Structural, Leadership levels and Project based. It starts out as a strategic plan at the highest level but becomes the operational plan that supports that strategic plan as it flows down through the organization.
The first step is to build the GOST at a structural level, this is where we build the GOST at the highest level, board of directors or executive team. Many boards will have the executive team build the ST for their level, review assess and update as they like to see the level of logical thinking skills the executive team embodies. Once that is complete we now align the level below with that of the highest level. Let's assume there is a board of directors in the organization. We build the GOST, then the ST from the board level, become the GO a next level down, executive team. The executive team take the boards ST and which are now their GO and go through a 3 step process. First, they align themselves with the boards ST making their GO use the appropriate language for their level. This is rarely more than a procedural process. Next, they add any Goals or Objectives that the board may have left out as most boards shouldn't be micro managing, there should be several added, this is where the executive team does their true strategic planning. The value is they now can make every new goal they come up with be in alignment with the boards S & T somewhere, if they can't they need to ask themselves why are they doing it. Once this is complete the final step is for each executive team member to now write their own GOST. Every Tactic will tie to someone on the executive to either complete themselves or oversee.
If there are various agencies, companies, etc. that are stand alone, they too will need to build a GOST with their executive teams. Once this is complete the structural part is in tact, now we focus on the leadership level.
The leadership level in most organizations, depending on size, looks something like Executive, Managerial, Supervisory, Team Leader. Each of these levels will follow the same 3 step process mentioned above. Align their GO with the ST of their manager, write their own GOST with strategic thinking that their leader may not have provided, then complete their GOST. Once this is done, they do the same with their direct reports.
Sustaining the GOST
Once the entire GOST is built at every level, sustaining is simple. The GOST is housed in a web browsing environment with a simple database that links every level vertical and horizontal. Everyone works inside that database when making adjustments to the GOST for documentation control. The GOST by level become an agenda item in the many weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings. The best part is the GOST is constantly updated daily as it is the operational planning tool at the front lines and therefore, the next board or executive strategic planning session is truly that, strategic. You won't get bogged down in the operational How and truly benefit the organization by staying at that level.
Benefits of GOST
The GOST aligns each level of the organization with the Goals at the highest level. You now have each leader in the organization knowing exactly Why their role and team is important.
It eliminates the US versus Them mentality of each department not understanding each others roles and through this process, the GOST is open throughout the entire organization, which means if our departments interact, I get to see the process by which you work and if it doesn't align with my expectations, we need to come together to streamline our operations.
The GOST ensure execution and implementation of the lofty goals so frequently thrown out.
Clearly defined Direction at all levels of the organization with constant updates to ensure clarity.
Better Communication and understanding between tiers of leadership and management.
More Accountability throughout the entire organization.