How to rapidly gain agreement on a unified strategy in a cross-functional setting where impact, coordination, balance, and efficiencies must be optimized and are critical to manage? With multiple sometimes competing or overlapping initiatives at the functional leadership level, a leadership team must continuously review alignment and make decisions that provide the best overall outcome for the organization, staff, and external stakeholders.
We offer a simple three-stage, potentially one-page, model to facilitate a cross-functional strategy discussion and recommend a systems thinking perspective for designing solutions.
- Identify, confirm, and list pressing near-term strategy issues that must be addressed
- Seek input from functional departments
- Synchronize with existing quarterly plan and initiatives
- Rank, group, and clarify
- Model mission-level workflow between key departments, and gain agreement on critical success path
- Identify most important cross-functional points of integration at leadership level
- Present in context of two or three year major objectives
- Time-boxed small group dialog selectively working on those issues with the potential for greatest positive impact
- The result of a strategy discussion may be one or more change initiatives
- These may be simple tasks that can be assigned and completed quickly
- These may be new or revised processes, communication models, modification of functional tactics, etc.
- Or more extensive work that requires a project orientation and process.
- This could provide initial objectives for a more detailed and formal strategic planning process
- Once a change or project is complete the result of the strategy discussion becomes an operational process or activity.
The process repeats itself as strategy questions are resolved into change and operations, new strategy issues surface, and the backlog is groomed to produce the ideal work sequence. This format presents a common WIP board for management of strategic work to improve integration, alignment, efficiencies, and optimize desired organizational results (metrics, impact, outcomes). Close attention to the design of performance metrics and alignment of metrics will make-or-break the ability of a team to make the best decisions consistently.