In this final blog of my three-part series on the importance of planning, I’d like to discuss the idea of Cascading Objectives. The general purpose of Cascading Objectives is to “cascade” your executive/business level objectives, strategies, and metrics down through the organization. Which enables each function, department, and even individual, to tie their activities, projects, and tasks to the key objectives that will drive your company’s success.
Let’s start with the Executive (Business) level objectives. During your strategic/business planning process, you should identify three to five Key Objectives that will drive success. These are usually breakthrough objectives that, when achieved, are differentiable. These objectives should not be focused on objectives like “grow revenue 5%.” If you have that objective, what are the BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals) that will largely contribute to achieving that overall result?
Once you’ve established those objectives, determine—for each objective—the Key Strategies your company will need to undertake to achieve those objectives. As with each Key Objective, you should limit the Key Strategies for each Key Objective to three to five. Don’t boil the ocean and list every possible strategy you might undertake. Be thoughtful and focus on the most impactful strategies.
Each Key Objective must have Metric(s) that are measurable and clear indicators of achievement to the Key Objective. The same is true for Key Strategies. A great rule of thumb is if the Key Objective or Key Strategy cannot be measured, it is not a good Key Objective or Key Strategy, it should be re-evaluated. Once you have established the Executive Level Key Objectives, Key Strategies (for each Key Objective), and Metrics, you are now ready to “Cascade” these throughout your organization.
In most organizations, the next level down from the Executive team are the functions (Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Service, etc.). Task each functional lead with identifying Key Objectives for their function that tie to one or more of the Key Strategies identified at the Executive Level for one or more Executive Level Key Objectives. In other words, your Executive Level Key Strategies often become the Key Objectives for one or more of the functions in your company.
As they identify their three to five Key Objectives that contribute specifically to one or more of those at the Executive level, they will then repeat the process of identifying their Key Strategies for each Key Objective, as well as the measurable Metrics for each. This process cascades down from the functional level to the department level and so on. Many companies often cascade all the way to the Supervisor or even Individual Contributor level as well.
Once complete, you will now be able to “roll up” all efforts across the company that tie to your Executive Level Key Objectives and Key Strategies. It helps you see where you are progressing and achieving results and where you are not. It also more importantly aligns the organization from top to bottom (everyone is rowing in the same direction), and as noted earlier, makes it much easier to identify activity that is not directly aligned to the Company’s overall goals.
That’s it. Simple, huh? I know—no, it isn’t. But, putting effort on Strategic Planning and driving execution using Cascading Objectives can drive real change in your organization faster than a “best efforts” plan, and empower your organization in ways you may have never thought possible.
Good luck. See you in 2019.