Viva Goals is a tremendous piece of software for strategic alignment. It makes your strategy functional to cascaded individuals, transparent to the organization, and actionable against the key results you input to measure. What’s more: the technology is straightforward and easy to use. #itMayAsWellBeAnAdButItsNot
But what does it mean to use the software? Here’s a few best practices as you get started.
It’s as much about the process as it is the result. I work for McChrystal Group, and for years our teams have been helping organizations build their analog plan on a page. A strategic document acting as a written record north star of where the organization is headed and what it wants to accomplish. Note that this is “helping them build their document…,” not because we can’t do it for them, but because the process of aligning leaders in an organization (e.g., voicing their goals and limitations, prioritizing and deprioritizing) is as much a part of the synthesis as is the typing it into Word or PowerPoint. The alignment process is not socializing a document and convincing leaders to execute on it; when done correctly, alignment is achieved in the process of writing of composing the document.
The same is true for Viva Goals. Using the software is about the process of identification and prioritization as much as it is about the key punches and clicks into the platform.
It’s as much about the process as it is the result (again)? Successful organizations who use their strategy would see Viva Goals as an operating system for their business. The platform houses the single source of truth for progress towards objectives and what needs to be done next. Organizations should create what McChrystal Group calls an Operating Rhythm – but you can call it whatever you want. The intentional and purposeful set of meetings cadenced weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly – to perform the Goals check-ins, report ups, and cross-functional awareness briefs to push the strategy forward. A good OKR process flags to all levels things that are working and should be replicated, as well as those barriers that may need support to overcome.
The process of establishing an Operating Rhythm that works for your business, adapting it as necessary, and having the discipline to adhere to it is how you leverage strategy for action and stay aligned to it.
Remember what the purpose of a priority is. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. If you want your company to align around a strategy, try to be parsimonious – you can be detailed, but try not to add too many main goals, or else you run the risk of making your strategy a muddled to-do list. People do well at saying what they will do, but they don’t do so well at saying what they’ll stop doing. There’s plenty of space to assign tasks, objectives and key result owners if you choose to engage with Viva Goals as you cascade your priorities down. However, if your top-level priorities number as many as 9 or 10 (or in some cases, even fewer), senior leadership may not have aligned around one mission. Consider thinking of a simple framework to build the strategy around – perhaps a few major buckets like your people, your product, and your customers. You can still cascade within them, and your major strategies can have aspirational elements. But if your goal is to align the organization, muddying your priorities can muddy your peoples’ vision.
Just because it’s simple and direct doesn’t mean a major strategic goal isn’t powerful. If people can align around it, and it can be used to drive action, it’s far more effective than something intricate and complex that few understand and fewer can execute.
Not too much complexity here: remember process and purpose above all. Did I miss something you think is important? Keeping it too simple? What has been successful and unsuccessful when driving alignment for you?