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4 Habits to Start in the New Year

Okay, we hear the collective groan when we mention New Year’s resolutions, so let’s agree that we’re recommending 4 super helpful and value-adding strategic planning and implementation habits to form in 2022 so that your team has a better chance to achieve your big, bold vision.

We talk about best practices and things to do to keep your organization on-strategy every two weeks, but today we’re going to focus on the 4 things you and your team can do and we promise they’ll deliver more certainty, results and engagement. If you’re already implementing any of these, bravo! We hope you’ve seen a positive enough impact that you’re game to take on a few more in January.

We advise that every organization that wants to achieve their vision and succeed at the growth or strategic shift that their plan details will do these 4 things starting in 2022:

  1. Update your growth strategy
  2. Consistently conduct monthly strategy reviews
  3. Refresh your annual plan quarterly
  4. Conduct 2 to 4 strategic conversations next year

Let’s talk about each habit in detail and why we think they’re worth adopting:

1. Update Your Growth Strategy

Markets, customers, and competitors change frequently and quickly these days—is your growth strategy keeping up? When it comes to where to play and how to win, few organizations have money to waste on gut feelings, best guesses, or old habits. So, review or maybe completely update your growth strategy right now if your team has capacity or schedule the time after, but early in the New Year.

Here’s a growth strategy guide that will come in handy.

A few pro tips:

Reevaluating your growth strategy every year might be excessive (unless the pace of change in your industry is really rapid), but if it’s been more than a few years since you asked yourself, “where should we play and how will we win there?” now is a great time to start a good habit.

2. Monthly Strategy Reviews

In our Guide on OKR Cycles (or whatever form of plan you’re implementing), we shared all sorts of tips and advice, but let’s focus on what we call, “the monthly strategics.” Promise to yourself and your team that you will implement and stick with holding monthly strategics where your team discusses progress of OKRs: what’s moving along nicely, what is stuck and what is needed to get unstuck. These monthly check-ins are primarily to review performance of OKRs and to determine if there are critical actions or shifts needed in the next 30 days, but they also serve to keep you and your team engaged and focused so you don’t end the quarter or the year wondering why you didn’t achieve all you set out at the beginning of the year. Of course, monthly strategics will run smoothly and preparation will be easy if everyone reports on their progress against OKRs they own using an implementation application; we’re obviously fans of using the OnStrategy Application to centralize reporting and make seeing both the details and the big picture easy.

Check out page 9 of the guide for a sample monthly strategics agenda. Here are a few tips for establishing a productive habit for monthly strategy reviews:

3. Quarterly Refreshes

Refreshing your strategic plan annually—or worse, every 3 to 5 years—is so last century. The name of success these days is agility and if your plan isn’t agile, your success will be harder to come by. The desire to be more agile is the key reason so many organizations are adopting OKRs: so they can adapt to shifts or opportunities, so they can set targets or outcomes and see them realized and then reset. If you haven’t already, read up on agile planning with OKRs in this guide. By committing to quarterly refreshes, you’re agreeing to set the next 90 days’ focus based on the previous 90 days’ performance.

For details on creating a 90-day planning cycle, read the Strategy Sprints guide. This process takes your vision and annual goals and provides a lightweight, but supremely agile method for planning.

Tips for your quarterly refreshes:

4. Schedule Strategic Conversations

We love really interesting strategic conversations, but it doesn’t make sense to only have them once a year. They’re fun! Do more fun stuff in 2022! What’s a strategic conversation? Glad you asked. Strategic conversations cover how you’ll create the future. These are different than the operational conversations about improving the current.

You may choose to hold strategic conversations in tandem with your quarterly strategy sprints or if you’re not following an agile quarterly planning cycle, schedule a strategy session mid-year. Earlier this year, we published a guide, “Is it Strategic? A guide for facilitating strategic conversations” because we found that around month 5, some organizations have lost their ‘strategic mojo’ and are having only operations conversations. Don’t misunderstand, we agree that discussing operations is very important, but those conversations look very different than the strategic conversations we hope you and your team will have more than once next year. Here’s a quick overview of how strategic and operations conversations differ:

Operations Conversation Strategic Conversation
  • ~80% of your conversations
  • Business-as-usual
  • Improving the current
  • Focused on the current operating model
  • Topics are part of the daily “whirlwind”
  • Measured by hard, quantitative outcomes, e.g., number of leads, click-through-rate
  • ~20% of your conversations
  • Not currently within your operating model
  • Not in the current whirlwind of the day-to-day
  • Topics that create your future
  • Or topics that keep you up at night
  • Resulting projects or initiatives are often measured by a project-type metric (putting in place something that doesn’t exist today)

Four best practices we know work shouldn’t be too difficult to become habits, right? Heck, we’d be thrilled if you’d pick up one of these in 2022. And if you’re already practicing any of these, we commend your “strategery” and hope they’re having a positive impact on your team’s engagement and your organization’s ability to achieve its vision.

Wishing you happiness and much success in the New Year!

-The OnStrategy team

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