min read

Gaining Strategic Instinct And Fast Adaptability

Article by 
Cascade Team
  —  Published 
January 23, 2023
June 7, 2023

What is the secret to successful strategy execution? According to Laura Blackmore, Cascade's Director of Customer Success, there are two superpowers all organizations need to develop to succeed: Strategic Instinct and Fast Adaptability. 

During her session at World Strategy Day, Laura introduced us to these two concepts and gave us a quick tour of the Cascade platform showing how it can help companies of all sizes stay on track to ensure they reach their most ambitious goals.

Let’s take a look!

Strategy Execution Superpowers: Strategic Instinct & Fast Adaptability

In today's rapidly changing business environment, it's essential for companies to have two key superpowers: strategic instinct and fast adaptability. 

Strategic instinct is the ability to recognize an opportunity and respond to it strategically, while fast adaptability is the ability to monitor, change, and realign or regroup or reprioritize when necessary. These superpowers are crucial for successful execution and can make the difference between thriving and struggling in today's market.

As we shared in our Strategy Report “You’re doomed or you adapt”, companies that develop a grand strategic plan that assumes the market is stable and don’t have the flexibility to change will find themselves struggling when they realize that the perfect plan doesn’t exist and that they will need to pivot down the road. 

Laura states it’s fundamental to help organizations find those two superpowers. And to find them, it’s important to understand that success doesn’t come from complicated jargon and bringing in external consultants who don't understand your business. 

It really comes down to having clarity on:

  • Your vision & values
  • What you want to achieve 
  • Things that will help you achieve it
  • Ways to measure impact

These elements represent the blueprint of your business

Cascade mirrors that blueprint in the platform, being really bold and really explicit. Of course, the names can change depending on the framework you use (like Hoshin Kanri or the OKR method), but the essence is the same. Frameworks are just another lens to work with.

#1 Strategy Execution Platform Say goodbye to strategy spreadsheets. It’s time for Cascade. Get started, free  forever

Strategy Is Everyone’s Business - The IDEAL Methodology

So you found your superpowers, and that’s great news! But it’s still not enough… The key to making everything work together is INCLUSION. 

Even if you defined those key elements that build up the blueprint of your business, a big mistake organizations occasionally make is assuming that people understand those elements and that, since they understand them, they can go and execute the strategy. 

But sometimes it's more complicated than that, and to avoid this common mistake, you can use the IDEAL Methodology that proposes a new (and improved) way to strategy execution. 

The IDEAL Methodology has 5 key pillars:

ideal methodology for strategy execution cascade

For the purpose of this session, Laura focused mainly on the Inclusion pillar. If you want to deep dive into the IDEAL Methodology, check our Strategy Report.

But, why “inclusion”? Because having an inclusive strategy will ensure you get your entire organization around strategy. This means stop hiding your strategy in the boardroom and start bringing everyone together to contribute to the strategy. Everyone knows something about the business that others don’t whether it’s unique pressures, market insights or customer needs. Collaborate, don’t proscribe.

To understand how you can make your strategy more inclusive, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Does everybody in your team know the strategy that your business is working towards?
  • Does everybody feel part of it? 
  • Do you value their diverse points of view? 

By bringing everyone together you’ll be able to drive that focus around execution.

Keep Execution in Mind While Formulating Strategy

First of all, you need to formulate your strategy - you can’t execute anything without a plan, right? But don’t lose sight of the execution, even during the planning phase! 

When we talk about strategy execution, it’s important that you ensure your teams are focused on the execution and not (only) the planning. So, start with the end in mind. When you’re formulating your plan, you need to already be thinking about how your teams are actually going to execute it and measure results.

The easiest way to do this is to break your plan down into these areas.

strategy execution areas plan focus area objective action measure

Focus Areas - The Building Blocks of Your Strategy

The first step in your plan is to identify your key focus areas, which can also be referred to as pillars, priorities, strategic priorities, or themes. These are the foundation stones of your strategy, and they should expand upon your vision. For example, if your goal is to become the number one bike manufacturer in the world, your focus areas may include “aggressive growth” and/or “recruiting top talent”.

To ensure that your focus areas are effective, they should be easy to remember. Keep them concise, with a maximum of six words, and avoid using jargon or metrics. This will help ensure that everyone in your organization can understand and focus on them. 

📚Recommended reading: Strategic Focus Areas: How to create them + Examples

Objectives - Achievable Outcomes

Once you have identified your focus areas, it's important to break them down into objectives. These are specific things you want to achieve as an outcome, they should be big, bold, clear, and concise messages that everyone in your business can rally around. By breaking down your focus areas into objectives, you can gain strategic instinct and adaptability because it's clear what you're striving for.

When defining objectives, it's important to keep them achievable and realistic. A trap that is often seen is having too many objectives for a single focus area, this can make it difficult for teams to understand what they are trying to achieve. Therefore, it's recommended to limit the number of objectives to between three to six, depending on your business, and to attach a deadline to them. Additionally, objectives should be tangibly achievable and linked to the organizational identity, culture and should be attached to specific focus areas.

Avoid aligning objectives with multiple focus areas, as this can add confusion. Also, don't include metrics, KPIs or indicators in the objectives, this will be covered later. A clear example could be "Triple our revenue across key segments by the end of the year." 

📚Recommended reading: What are Strategic Objectives? How to write them + Examples

Actions - The Steps to Achieve Objectives

After identifying your objectives, you'll want to break them down into specific steps or actions. These can sometimes be referred to as projects or initiatives, whatever the term is that you use internally. These are the actions that need to be taken to achieve your objectives and where your team will be focused on. It's important to be specific and avoid listing operational steps. You can later break them down into shorter checklists or project milestones.

A good example of an action could be "Creating a large scale marketing campaign by the end of the month." This is specific, actionable and has a deadline attached.

Measures - Quantifiable Outcomes

The final step in your plan is to define measurable outcomes. This is often referred to as KPIs, metrics, key results or indicators. They serve as a scorecard for the company's health and help identify when adjustments need to be made.

To make good measures, they need to be quantitative, time-bound and linked to your objectives. Together, they help you keep track of trends in the market and see if you are moving in the right direction. This allows you to be more adaptable and agile in your organization.

A good example of a measure could be "Increase revenue to 65 million by the end of the year." This is clear, quantifiable, and has a deadline attached, allowing teams to rally around it.

Consistency in Terminology

As we discussed earlier, different organizations may use different terms to refer to the same elements. It's important to make sure that everyone in your organization is aligned with the messaging and speaking the same language. This avoids confusion and allows your team to focus on execution. To achieve this, make sure to use consistent terminology throughout your business. Clearly define the terms and phrases you'll use to ensure that everyone is on the same page and able to focus on executing the plan effectively.

The Cascade Way 🚀

In today's fast-paced business environment, it's more important than ever to have a clear and well-executed strategy. But how do you gain that strategic instinct and fast adaptability? Those two superpowers that we discussed are so important to drive successful strategy execution? And how do you make your strategy inclusive, and ensure that your teams are aligned and focused on the right goals? That's where Cascade comes in.

Cascade is not just another tool to add to your stack, but rather a new way of working that sits at the heart of your organization. It brings intention and focus to your teams, helps you be more strategic and aligns everyone with both your vision and mission.

cascade strategy execution new way to work

But how does it work? Let’s see a practical example:

Meet Emily, the VP of Operations for Meerkat Cycling. Meerkat Cycling is a 1,000 employee company that has been using Cascade for a few months now to drive their strategy forward. Emily receives a report in her inbox from Jacob, her supply chain manager, and wants to understand how the team is performing.

With Cascade, Emily can easily see the latest updates from her team, understand how they're performing against their goals and even collaborate with her team members to address any areas of concern. She can also see how all the teams in the organization are aligning with each other and make adjustments as needed.

Cascade helps bring context to all the different data and outcomes your organization may have, making it easier to understand how everything fits together and drive strategy execution. It supports all different structures and frameworks and is flexible enough to adapt to the unique needs of any size organization.

Take a look at Laura’s session to get a full tour of our platform and discover how Emily uses Cascade (and how you can use it!) to drive successful strategy execution:

#1 Strategy Execution Platform Say goodbye to strategy spreadsheets. It’s time for Cascade. Get started, free  forever

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