How to implement an actionable strategy
So, what part does strategy play in Revenue Operations (RevOps)? One of the key elements of working within a RevOps framework is team alignment and without the right approach to forming an actionable strategy, it’s unlikely that the business and team will be fully aligned. However, the abstract nature of the term “strategy” leaves many with an unclear idea of what it is and, importantly, the vital part it plays in the revenue focussed operations of any business. Everyone, regardless of their role, has a part to play in strategy and it’s important that they understand how it contributes to a businesses success.
“Strategy” is an often used, but not always understood term. Its abstract nature leaves many with an unclear idea of what it is and, importantly, the impact it can have on the success or otherwise of a business”
“Strategy” is an often used, but not always understood term. Its abstract nature leaves many with an unclear idea of what it is and, importantly, the impact it can have on the success or otherwise of a business. In their own individual way, everyone contributes, not only to the strategy itself, but setting, planning and executing the strategy - after all, what is a strategy without the scene-setting before it and the execution after. So, let’s outline what we believe is a pragmatic approach to setting a deliverable and actionable strategy that all businesses regardless of their size can use.
The Actionable Strategic Workflow
Strategy fills the gap between what the company, team or person wants to achieve; vision and mission and the execution, or how to achieve it. Essentially a clear strategy assists in converting the vision and mission into a workable and deliverable plan. Without going through these steps, and having a before and after to the strategy, it will be difficult to deliver company goals. Likewise, if you miss out the strategic part of the workflow and go straight into planning and execution - essentially tactics - you’ll be unlikely to have a coherent plan that all the team can buy into. Vitally, you won’t have clearly defined goals which are the measure for success for everyone involved.
So, in our view the steps that should be followed are:
This is the context setter for the entire business, ie. the problem the company’s product or service is looking to solve and the reason why. This is ordinarily a leadership team or founder-led part of the process and is normally a statement of a sentence or two. There are many examples of Mission Statements, good and bad, but here is a strong list of Inspiring Mission Statements from HubSpot.
A bit more real than a Mission, the vision statement describes the “how” compared to the “what” of a Mission statement. Not so factual that it constrains creativity, but enough to provide a tangible approach to delivering on the mission. Again, this is normally devised at the leadership level and comes in the form of a statement.
An example of a successful Mission and Vision statements are those created by Ted:
Mission: To spread ideas.
Vision: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
This example, together with a number of other useful references can be found in Clearvoice’s article collating 25 Mission and Vision Examples.
This is where the Mission and Vision are transformed from statements into an outline approach that can be delivered upon. It’s where the parameters for execution and, importantly, goals are set, by adding a level of data, resource availability and some subjective “what’s possible” consideration. It’s not where tactics are decided, but rather the high-level objectives and the “how” takes on a level of reality which isn’t - and shouldn’t - be present in the Vision part of the flow. Leadership should work with section or departmental heads to devise the strategy.
This is where the Strategy is passed over the teams in each department to do their work and, importantly, make the strategy deliverable. Each person or group responsible for individual “channels” will take the strategy and build it into an actionable plan that will include the tactical elements of, as an example, which audience to speak and how and when this communication should take place. A properly considered and thought out planning stage should give the team members executing the plan the freedom and time to do their best work and not have to rush or compromise. This is where Gantt chart lovers excel! Department heads will work with the individuals on this phase with a “checks and balance” approval from the leadership team.
This is where the success or otherwise of the previous phases will come to light. The Execution phase is often the most difficult, but if the processes have been followed and time and care taken over the previous phases, execution should be an efficient, fun and enjoyable experience. If the phases haven’t been delivered well, this phase and the teams/individuals delivering this phase have, in many ways, been set-up to fail, or at least not deliver on the goals they’ve been asked to achieve.
“Creating an open and honest review and feedback loop where goals are objectively measured is vital to the success of this strategic workflow.”
One of the important parts of the execution phase is a review of the success metrics and importantly, communication of these metrics to the leadership team so they can decide whether the Mission and Vision is being delivered upon. Creating an open and honest review and feedback loop where goals are objectively measured is vital to the success of this strategic workflow.
Who is responsible for each part of the process?
So, just to recap, those responsible for each phase should be:
Mission - Leadership Team or Founders
Vision - Leadership Team or Founders
Strategy - Leadership Team with Divisional Heads
Planning - Divisional Head with their teams or individuals
Execution - Divisional Teams or individuals
What period should this Workflow cover?
This really depends on the specific business but, in most circumstances, the Strategy element of the process should cover a 12-month period with quarterly reviews. Planning and Execution should, ideally be reviewed, checked and tested on a monthly and quarterly basis. The Mission and Vision might not change if the Strategy, Planning and Execution phases are working, but should, for good discipline be reviewed annually.
So, hopefully we've outlined an actionable approach to strategy and have cleared-up some of the elements which confuse people and make the topic more abstract then it is in reality. If you do follow these steps, it will do two very important things. Firstly, it will give the business the time to think about what it wants to achieve and how it should be achieved. Secondly and, in some ways most importantly, it will align your revenue focussed teams and give them defined goals which they've contributed to setting., and as everyone knows, if you've contributed to setting goals, you're more motivated to achieve them.
Very simply, you should get started with the process. It will, more than likely, be an iterative process which will improve for your specific case over time, but if you do follow this framework for devising a revenue operations focussed strategy, it will align the business and team members with a clear idea of goals and their impact on achieving them. Let us know how you get on...