[Q&A] Should all departments adopt the same organizational-wide quarterly review cycle?

Aug 10, 2023

Q: Should all departments adopt the same organization-wide quarterly review cycle?

A: It depends! But, if your department’s initiatives directly support your organization’s strategic plan and OKRs, the answer should be yes!
If your department’s initiatives or projects don’t directly support your plan or OKRs, you may not need to follow the same cadence.


Great question! Here are a few of the best answers from our Strategy Collaborative Q&A Session!

When developing a quarterly review cycle for your strategic plan, many people ask whether or not all departments and projects need to adopt the same quarterly cycle that the organization has set for their strategic plan.

The answer is—it depends. It is best to transition to the same quarterly cycle for some department initiatives, especially those that directly contribute to the organizational strategy. But others may not necessarily have to.

Read on for our tips to discern when to transition your department or project to the overall review cycle or when to adapt a more unique reporting cycle.

The benefit of aligned quarterly cycles.

An aligned quarterly review cycle can bring a sense of cohesion. It also creates rigor driven by your review cadence.

Consistency is key to effective agile quarterly cycles and achieving organizational goals. And sometimes that means that your entire organization [including departments] need to follow the same review and refresh cycle for their goals and OKRs.

Pro Tip:

Consider adopting a ‘sprint cycle.’ If your organization is rigorous around the sprint cadence, then you could sync up your monthly strategics and your quarterly reviews with the end of a sprint cycle.

However, it is important to assess the needs of each unique department. One department or team might benefit from more frequent reviews to ensure alignment and to get ahead of any challenges.

The potential hindrance of too many reviews.

On the other hand, a one-size-fits-all approach might not meet the unique needs of every department, as not every department operates at the same pace.

This is why organizations must consider each department’s unique demands and rhythm. Some departments or projects may be hindered by too many review meetings.

Keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening day-to-day–don’t get too caught up in the details that aren’t driving strategic direction.

It can be challenging to differentiate between “strategic” and “business as usual” (BAU) activities.

While all work is valuable, not all tasks contribute directly to the strategic goals. Ultimately, if a task is associated and laddering into the organizational strategy, they should be part of the same organizational-wide review structure.

Strike a balance between strategy and business as usual.

There is a need to balance driving new strategic efforts and continuing core operations. Maintaining an understanding of what’s happening at the business-as-usual level is essential, as key learnings can feed into strategic planning.

However, not all operational tasks feed directly into the overall organizational strategy, and as such, don’t necessarily need to be on the same review cycle.

That’s not to say that the business-as-usual tasks aren’t valued, as they certainly are. They just aren’t equal to the overall strategy, and as such, it’s unnecessary to tie them into the quarterly cycle if they aren’t driving or influencing the performance of the organizational strategy.

Pro Tip:

Highlight and celebrate your team’s problem-solving as an indicator of strategic thinking. This allows your team to understand that the work they are doing, even work that is ‘business-as-usual,’ ladders up to the organizational strategy and is valued.

Opt for a hybrid approach.

Again, balance is key. Having a standard quarterly review cycle across the board could be beneficial, with provisions for certain departments to have additional checks as needed. This keeps everyone in sync, but also allows for flexibility where it’s required.

The ideal approach could be a hybrid model–a common quarterly cycle for everyone, with additional department-specific reviews as required. This maintains cohesion, while also catering to the unique needs of each department.

Conclusion

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to how or when to set your review cycles across all departments. It’s ultimately about finding what works best for your specific organization and team dynamics.


Additional Resources to Consider

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