A COO’s perspective: how OGSM links strategy through an organization
It’s easy for us to preach about the transformational potential OGSM strategy holds for a business because we have the advantage of seeing it work project after project. We enter a new client and watch how this simple strategy framework, with the right amount of leadership, dedication and resources, can deliver the results leadership most desires. It’s truly remarkable what the OGSM framework can do when leaders want to transform their business.
More powerful than us preaching however, is hearing about OGSM straight from a peer – someone leading an organization and successfully using OGSM today.
When we set out to interview a client on OGSM, naturally one of the first people we thought of was Dennis Wimmert of Crest Industries. Crest, based in Louisiana, is the holding company for a family of world-class project-oriented companies serving the energy, electric, petrochemical, industrial and forestry industries. We met Dennis over two years ago, helping him lead an OGSM leadership meeting. Coming from a previous career at P&G, Dennis was an expert in the methodology and big believer in the power of OGSM to drive organizational excellence.
His work driving OGSM strategy at Crest is especially impressive due to the complexity of the company. He hasn’t just cascaded the framework across one organization’s functions but through separate, independently operating business units. Dennis was an early adopter of myOGSM, ArchPoint’s cloud-based strategy execution software, and the Crest organization is the most active user of our tool. The discipline instituted by Dennis with the help of myOGSM has propelled the company to great success.
Richard Spoon recently caught up with Dennis to discuss the benefits and challenges of OGSM strategy.
Do you have any experience with other strategy frameworks? If so, how does OGSM compare?
Dennis: I saw it as an incredibly powerful tool when it was first implemented at P&G. The company got became focused for the first time – what we were going to do and not going to do. Our mindset focused around “breakthrough” and it was incredible what we could accomplish.
Where I’ve seen organizations go wrong is when they lose track of why they were using OGSM. They were focused more on how they did it (mechanics of the process and templates), not why they did it (to prioritize and achieve breakthrough). I saw the value of it and if done properly, it’s a simple, easy tool that exists on one page. You can see where the focus is from top to bottom.
I have experience with other strategic planning approaches. But I always come back to OGSM. It’s a simple, easy tool that exists on one page.
Considering using OGSM at P&G and now implementing the model outside of P&G, what are the biggest differences?
Dennis: When I started with Crest, I was in a staff role and I had to help people understand what the tool is and where the power lies. That probably was beneficial because I had to truly help the organization see the benefits of it and what a great tool it was for priority setting. Once we as a leadership team said it made sense to tie vision to the work, it made it a lot easier. I wasn’t trying to convince up and down in the organization. Initially I had to do much more of selling it as a tool, so people could understand the value of it.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome using OGSM?
Dennis: It’s not the actual creation of an OGSM strategy or getting clear on priorities, it’s using it as a tool on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. It’s easier on an annual basis, but more challenging to do monthly and quarterly. Going back to the tool and evaluating whether we’re making progress or if something happens in our environment making sure we’re staying on track.
What are the biggest benefits you see using OGSM strategy?
Dennis: Tying the business unit results to overall Crest results. And knowing what we’re not going to do versus everything – that priority setting and linkage. I would love to say we’ve linked all individuals, but we’re not quite there yet.
It’s that golden thread linking the business units to overall results and saying what we’re not going to do.
How do you adjust using OGSM based on business size and resources available?
Dennis: That’s probably the biggest challenge. We had a lot of resources at P&G. The biggest challenge in a small company is allowing the business units to really be able to spend 20-30% of your time on the breakthrough strategic items. The day-in day-out tends to take priority and we work in the work versus on the work. Organizations struggling that need OGSM the most tend have the fewest resources to devote to it.
How do you keep OGSM top-of-mind in the organization? How do you keep everyone pressing forward?
Dennis: We have monthly breakthrough strategy meetings, where we do our P&L and breakthrough discussion. We’ll pick one or two breakthrough strategies that the organization is working on and really dive deep into it. These meetings include a lot of discussion asking, “have you thought about…,” really challenging the business units to think outside the box. We also do a lot of reinforcement in these meetings, “hey that’s dead on – what help do you need from us to make that happen.”
The monthly review has been really powerful to keep OGSM top-of-mind.
What advice would you give to leaders implementing the framework for the first time?
Dennis: You have to have leadership alignment first at the highest level in the organization. And need to be able to help people understand it’s a prioritization tool. It’s managing the priorities – growth, productivity, people. You must be very focused and strategic, you can’t have a list of 100 priorities – you can only choose a few. I’ve seen people use the tool and not be choiceful in setting priorities, and then they think the tool is the problem. Also, hire a great consultant!
I’ve seen people use the tool and not be choiceful in setting priorities, and then they think the tool is the problem.
How has myOGSM helped in implementing OGSM at Crest?
Dennis: I love myOGSM from the standpoint that it’s a great place to house our OGSM and show the overall picture. It’s a good place to pull it up and conduct reviews. We use the tool pretty regularly. It’s great that a lot of people have access to the plan.
Leaders must be able to see the overall picture. myOGSM provides a level of visibility to what’s going on in the business, all in one place. – Richard Spoon
Dennis Wimmert is the COO at Crest Industries, a nationwide company with experienced personnel, strong financial resources and diverse capabilities serving the energy, electric, petrochemical, industrial and forestry industries. Visit http://www.crestoperations.com/ to learn more about Crest.