Uncovering A Horrible Strategic Plan

Mar 25, 2014

Clichés often have an original meaning that is powerful because the saying has been found to be deeply true. Yet, many times these sayings get diluted and misused so much that the words no longer have the same impact.

Take the concept of dashboards in business. It’s an organizational “you have to see it to believe it” approach to driving home metrics that should matter to everyone. Yet, many dashboards languish either unreferenced, viewed with skepticism or are overwhelming due to the amount of information displayed. While the data’s value does not change, the filter applied has rendered it less effective than it should be.

What do dashboards have to do with uncovering poor strategic plans? In our recent experience, everything.
If you follow the progress of our company, you know we launched a new strategic management dashboard in Q4 of this year that is (in our humble opinion) pretty darn functional. For example: Plan goals can be tagged with any key word, and these key words are the anchors that pull those goals into one dashboard view. It’s an on-the-fly customization of filters that allows users complete control for sharing specifics of their plan with stakeholders.

Recently, we were asked to help one of our customers filter their dashboard to help the organization focus on five key objectives for the new year. Easy enough, we tagged the goals and subsequently found their plan was a mess. Their monthly targets were set as quarterly goals. Goals that needed to accumulate each month where set as an average. Some goals were unassigned. All of these awareness points came to us under 5 seconds due to the visualizations of one screen.

It was an incredibly powerful validation of “you have to see it to believe it.”

If you are leading a team around goals this year, make sure you incorporate some kind of visual element to your reviews. Visual aids break through the comprehension or attention barriers to demonstrate what your goals look like in practice, essentially creating a more efficient, effective common understanding to help ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your strategic focus.

Just how athletes use visualization to get an edge for winning, organizations can leverage the same power.

Give your team a “what great looks like” not only for your overall vision but also for your strategic progress. Then don’t look away from the power of the picture.



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