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March 29, 2013

OGSM Planning Framework

by marcobuchbinder

Planning meetingsMany early stage start-ups choose not to develop and maintain a strategic plan. They typically have a business plan, which was required for their funding process, but they don’t have a plan that links the longer term vision to their annual and quarterly plans. Now many of these start-ups’ founders have had prior negative experiences relative to planning, but they don’t need to undertake a time-consuming, expensive and cumbersome process to get to such a plan.

I moderated a couple of strategic planning sessions recently and the OGSM framework continues to be my favorite framework for start-ups. OGSM is a top-down strategic framework that defines and links the long-term vision to the medium to short-term strategies and metrics. It is a planning process that is initiated by the leadership, but it is shaped by all of the employees. Since it needs to fit on one page, it makes it a much more palatable planning framework for start-ups.

Here is a brief overview of OGSM:


Here are some tips to successfully implement OGSM:

Moderate it – Pick a moderator that has participated in several strategic planning sessions, both as a moderator and as a participant. A moderator acts as a facilitator (vs. participant) who guides the team through the entire planning process, actively listens, ensures the planning process is followed, ensures everyone is heard, and manages the white board. The moderator should do a recap at the end of the session and provide input only then. Lastly, the CEO cannot lead the discussion (as moderator) and needs to let the other participants have a chance to voice and interact. This may be a difficult challenge for the CEO, but it is an essential requirement.

Don’t force it – Leadership teams that have never participated as a team in the planning process will need more time to agree on all of the elements of the planning process, so it is essential to allocate a sufficient amount of time for multiple sessions over the course of no more than 4 weeks. Slow down the process if there is not a clear consensus on any one part of the plan. In fact, I have seen it take a full 4 hours (first session) to get the team to agree just to a common vision and global objectives.

Planning meetings 2Cascade it – The initial framework should be developed by no more than 6-8 key functional leaders of the company, but once your framework is developed, share it with other levels/functions of the company for discussion and input. This step not only serves to get to the critical next level of execution detail, but it also serves to empower the entire organization and get their buy-in.

Live it – The one page OGSM Plan needs to be visible across the company, including in conference rooms and offices. It needs to be referred to and tracked against in key monthly, quarterly and annual sessions. And it needs to be revised every six months.

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