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Four levels of leading action

I often see strategy as a very disconnected exercise. It causes many frustrations. But this thought is not about those. It's about how leading action benefits from a coherent strategic narrative at all levels:

💭 — Purpose-level communicates what owners want the company to achieve

There's no point in doing anything if it is not known what the company needs to achieve. Purpose can be anything from helping customers or creating shareholder value to making the best workplace or impacting the world.

A great framework to do so is the ever-familiar mission and vision framework. Matt Mochary has described those so briefly that I do not even attempt to do so myself:

"A mission should state the company's purpose in one simple, short and memorable sentence. To do this, I like to answer the following question in as few words as possible: Our purpose is to do what for whom?" — Matt Mochary
"A vision is simply a prediction of what the company will look like far on the horizon once it has achieved massive success." — Matt Mochary

Here are a few examples:

💡 — Strategy-level communicates the general approach for achieving the purpose

Now we know what the company should be geared to achieve.

The set purpose may feel big, hairy and audacious (as Jim Collins would say). And those who are more pragmatic will develop anxiety even by thinking about it. The next step is to communicate the general approach for getting closer to the vision.

The “Business Objective and Business Health KPI” framework is excellent for doing so. It communicates what you want to achieve and what you are not willing to compromise.

Ps. For pre-product market fit companies, a simple roadmap is a better option.

Here’s an example of the framework:

🎯 — Execution-level communicates everyone’s short-term priorities.

The picture emerges: leading action is about developing a coherent strategic narrative. But now, we are about to get to the most challenging part.

Execution-level frameworks need to be more understood. More often than not, they become too strategic and disconnected from day-to-day work. As a result, they lose their purpose. No one uses them unless it’s time for a bi-monthly objective review or something else.

So what could be a better solution? Execution-level strategies should answer a simple question: who prioritises what to accomplish the business objectives?

This is where the OKR framework shines:

🛠️ — Task-level communicates who is doing what.

The final level is about getting things done.

Usually, the doers and makers should decide on the best framework themselves. Excellent concepts that get the job done are guiding principles, agile sprints, project management, et cetera.

Let’s use sprints as an example and see how OKRs can prioritise day-to-day agenda:

❓ — Here's how everything connects

Leading action is about developing a coherent strategic narrative at all levels:

So give it a go! But whatever you do, just start somewhere and learn what works and what doesn't.

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