A 12 Step view of creating a Strategic Plan and Executing. Utilizing the 12 Days of Christmas as an analogy while utilizing great strategic books to support the principles.

Day One – A Clear and Compelling Vision
Day Two – Ability to Overcome Hedgerows
Day Three – Develop a BHAG
Day Four – Get Input from All Parties Involved
Day Five – Use the Pareto Principle
Day Six – Servant Based Leadership
Day Seven – People Powered Strategy
Day Eight – Measure What Matters
Day Nine – Getting Things Done
Day Ten – Play to Win
Day Eleven – Have Purpose
Day Twelve – To Sell is Human

Defining The 12 Days of Strategy
Day One – A Clear and Compelling Vision
On the 1st Day of Strategy, there needs to be a clear and compelling vision. The Cascade Range from central Oregon is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. Everywhere you look there are these snowcapped mountains – begging you to stop with awe and wonder. It is motivating, it is beautiful, and you are determined to find a way to get there.
What does success look like for you?
What does it look like for your organization?
How do you know when you have arrived?
Without this motivating vision, your strategy may never get started because your team may not be inspired to follow you. What gets me out of bed each morning for Cascade Strategy… To help organizations like you find your vision and purpose with a clear and compelling strategy to get you closer to that mountain top. Let us know how we can help you reach your goals.

Day Two – Ability to Overcome Hedgerows
On the 2nd Day of Strategy, there are Hedgerows. For eight months, the Allied Forces in World War II planned for D-Day to take a beachhead on Western Europe. On June 6th, 1944, the Allies successfully launched one of the largest military offensives combined with 156,000 troops, 11,000 aircraft and 5,000 ships crossed the English Channel into Normandy France. On D-Day plus One, they encountered Hedgerows. Despite eight months of planning, the military planners had not prepared the troops for the natural defensive positions from generations of farming, overgrown foliage and roads that they would encounter. The very next day, the troops were surprised, untrained and without the right equipment navigate Hedgerows. Despite this challenge and confusion from troops scattered throughout the 50-mile front, low level officers and enlisted personnel “created best practices” to overcome the Hedgerows and the German defensive positions.

Key Lessons:
A) Despite the months of planning, the leaders were unable to see a key obstacle that occurred on Day 2.
B) It was not the leadership at the top, but the ground troops who were able to overcome the obstacles with freedom to make decisions and conduct actions without full knowledge and proper resources from military command.

Day Three – Develop a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
On the 3rd Day of Strategy, there is the BHAG! Big Hairy Audacious Goal!
This term was coined famous in Good to Great by Jim Collins. Every vision, every strategy should have some element of a stretch goal pulling an organization into a new direction where old methods must be pushed aside to meet the new objectives. Without these types of goals, we will settle into status quo and simply do incremental improvements. Over time, these small increases will not be enough to stay ahead in a digital world. More importantly – well written BHAG’s create an energy and excitement for an organization to do great work – the type of stuff you want to get up in the morning to make a difference.

Day Four – Get Input from All Parties Involved
On the 4th Day of Strategy…there is Getting Input from all Parties Involved. We often miss the key sales person or the customer success manager or the warehouse manager who clearly sees what is working best and what is not…and we as leaders need to get their insight to make sure we are focusing on the right things and fixing the REAL problems that exist. How to get great input is to make your organization a Community of Strategists. We welcome you to learn from our clients, partners and our global team about how to change your stale Strategic Planning process into a dynamic solution that will help your organization become great. Join us at our April 2019 Strategic Planning conference engage.executestrategy.net in Portland, Oregon.

Day Five – Use the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule) to Create Focus
On the 5th Day of Strategy, there is the Pareto Principle. After your organization has defined where to play through clear insight and how to play – both areas should be relying upon the Pareto Principle. As noted in the diagram, 80% of results are typically based on 20% of effort. So how do you 10X? – Focus on the 20%. So how to you improve the bottom line? – Eliminate as much of the 80% inefficient efforts as possible (Lean). The Pareto is an incredible guideline. The diagram below comes from Business50Minutes.com.

Day Six – Servant Based Leadership (Level 5)
On the 6th Day of Strategy, our focus is on Leadership. However, this is a special kind of leadership called Servant Based Leadership or Level 5 Leadership as characterized by Jim Collins in Good to Great. In the background is the Washington Monument. In the truest sense of humility, George Washington scrapped the plans for his own memorial after being approved by the Continental Congress. Servant based leadership does not lack ego – but the ego is for the greater good of the organization, its mission and its values. Strategic plans are at their best when leaders can set aside their personal goals to seek the best actions to make that organization great.

Day Seven – People Powered Strategy
On the 7th Day of Strategy, there is Power. However, here at Cascade Strategy we not only talk about Cascading Strategy throughout the organization – it is also important to get input and feedback from those who are doing the work and running into the obstacles. Great organizations see and hear those challenges. They provide the resources to overcome obstacles and help the overall team get things done. We call this People Powered Strategy.

Day Eight
 – Measure What Matters
On the 8th Day of Strategy, we need to measure what we can control and what we cannot. In the digital world, we are enamored by a never-ending stream of complex Key Performance Indicators…yet do we even know what they mean?
Are they leading or lagging indicators?
Are they something that we even need to measure?
When we identify leading indicators that have real impact on meaningful outcomes – then we can focus our attention on actions that will make a difference. John Doerr‘s book on Measure What Matters takes a step in the right direction to identify the most important things and measure them for success.

Day Nine – Getting Things Done (4DX)
On the 9th Day of Strategy…we have to get things done. My favorite book on strategic execution comes from 4DX or The Four Disciplines of Execution. After 1,500 implementations, Chris McChesneySean Covey and Jim Huling, share some key principles of what IT REALLY
TAKES…to get things done. In a short sentence…FOCUS on fewer things.

Day Ten – Play to Win
On the Tenth Day of Strategy…if you are going to play the game; play it to win. AG Lafley and Roger Martin share two key principles in their classic book, Playing to Win. 1) Where to Play 2) How to Win. These principles go far beyond the for-profit world – it applies to any organization. Identify your mission, location, customer base, region and where you are most likely to be one of the best in the world at. After identifying that focus – put every energy into making that happen and stop doing the things that don’t matter – Special Hint – It’s easier said than done.

Day Eleven – Have Purpose in what you do
On the Eleventh Day of Strategy…there is Purpose. My personal award for organizations with extraordinary purpose is Conscious Venture Lab in Baltimore. Venture Capitalist Jeff Cherry is leading cohorts of start-ups for those entrepreneurs, who have a more difficult time starting out because of their zip code. His focus is on women minorities with companies that also have a Purpose to make a Difference. If I were to recommend venture capitalists to provide 10% to a great cause – this would be it. We were so impressed by the leaders and their missions we have decided to commit our resources and Cascade Strategy software for their strategic planning for their next cohort. Jeff continue making the difference that you are making.

Day Twelve – To Sell is Human
On the 12th day of Strategy…we must be able to move things, ideas and people….To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink is a recommended must read for anyone who needs to move things, people or ideas in the new world of caveat venditor.

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