Do You Have A Plan? Let’s Talk: Another Next Step from ELGL Innovation

Posted on September 3, 2019


Today’s Morning Buzz is by Josh Edwards, so be kind or not– either way connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter!!!

What I’m Listening To: Eric Church ever since I moved to Georgia!

What I’m Reading:   Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

 What I’m Watching: UGA Football, #GODAWGS 

Don’t get me wrong, I love data.  But, I worry we might have gone too far with our love affair.  You ever get so into something so deep that you forgot how you even got there in the first place? 

Let’s use youth sports as an example. I loved playing soccer as a kid, the “beautiful game” as Kent Wyatt calls it.  But in middle school and high school it was all I played. Gone were the days of playing for fun with my friends.

I love data as much as you, I promise.  If I am trying to understand a problem I am digging into both quantitative and qualitative data and loving every second of it. But does having so much data that describes the current circumstances take my focus off of the strategy and the end goal?  Yep.

One of the takeaways of the Innovation Summit, was attendees wanted to learn more about strategic planning.  I would love to organize a group of ELGL members that has a scheduled call to talk about how developing their strategic plan is going, who wants in? Drop me a note – we’re organizing a virtual hangout later this fall to do exactly this.  

My inspiration for today’s morning buzz was a great article about the intersection of strategy and performance measurement in the current issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR), Don’t Let Metrics Undermine your Business

The author uses Wells Fargo as an example of what happens when you replace strategy with metrics (surrogation).  If we over emphasize data in a vacuum without clear definition on where our organizations are heading, this is a likely phenomenon.  The author warns that if the below conditions exist:

  1. The objective or strategy is fairly abstract &
  2. The metric of the strategy is concrete and conspicuous.

Then, it is very likely that an employee will replace strategy with a metric, please no!!  Wait, am I saying that strategy is more important than data/metrics. Well maybe, but more importantly I am making the case for both! 

Ben Kittelson likes to look at advanced analytics related to his team, Liverpool.  But can Ben really do anything with how many miles James Milner ran in the latest match? NO!

But is it fun to know how many miles he ran in 90 minutes, well yes maybe. Data is only useful if it informs how well Jürgen Klopp is successfully implementing his strategy to defeat the opposition.

So do you and your organization have a plan?  Yeah, it is a trick question. I am sure you have a plan, but do you have a clearly defined strategy that is informed by data? 

All too often in local government we have plans, but we lack clear strategy that is actionable and outlines where we are trying to get in 3-5 years’ time. 

We wax poetic on where we want to be in 2040, but let’s not trick ourselves into thinking that a long term strategy can pair well with metrics we use focused on today.  Long term plans pair well with long term outcomes.   

We need to make the case in our organizations for clear strategy on what we are trying to achieve during the short term (3-5 years), how we intend to achieve it, and how we know if we have been successful. 

Let’s worry about whether our colleagues know the mission of the organization and how their work connects to it. If they don’t, we need to develop an understanding of how we work together as one organization to implement our goals and measure success.

3 Keys to Developing a Strategy that is Actionable and Measurable:

  1. A mission statement and values that are understood by organization
  2. The barriers/challenges are identified and a plan is laid out that addresses them in order to achieve goals.  Strategy clearly states action items that if achieved will move the target on key performance measures.  
  3. The more employees at all levels help in developing the strategy and collaborate with each other on how to create change, the more likely they will see the connection between strategy and measures.

For my next Morning Buzz, we will talk about the importance of structure and process when developing a plan if you want to see it implemented!

All views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of his employer.
Close window