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Cascade Your Annual Strategy & Planning

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Fri, Dec 20, 2013

92% of CEO’s feel their leadership team can communicate their strategy!  The same survey revealed that only 2% of their leadership team actually could! 

In our Four Decisions Workshops and Private Rockefeller Habits One and Two Day Workshops for customers we ask a simply question:  Can you say what your strategy is in 35 words or less? 

After everyone takes a few minutes to write down their strategy statement it’s curious to see the difference of opinion within each company.  Some people have no clue and write down very general representations.  Some have department objectives, while the CEO’s generally have a profound powerful view of where the company is going.  I’ve never been in a room where everyone agrees on what the company strategy is.

That 2% of leadership teams that know what the company’s strategy is appears more than realistic. 

How do you communicate your strategy effectively?  If only 2% of your leadership team knows your strategy, you know it’s not cascading down to your front line employees.  Is this any way to run a ship, an army, or a business?  Imagine that your front line employees have no clue what your strategy is, let alone what your one thing for the quarter or year.  Is it any wonder you are challenged to get everyone to move in the same direction?

2014 is just ten days away.  By now you should have your Annual and Quarter plans in place anticipating the New Year.  How do we go about communicating this to our leadership team and the full staff of your company?

Start with a two day off-site strategy and planning session with your leadership team.  Review 2013, the last quarter, review your 3-5 year plan (or create one if you don’t have one) and then review and plan your strategy elements.  A good place to begin is with the One Page Strategic Plan describe the imageor the Seven Strata of Strategy.  Always perform a SWOT, possibly gathering information from your second tier leadership team in the form of SWT (Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends)  

Once you’ve made decisions on which elements of strategy need to be identified and articulated stronger prepare to include these as part of your 2014 plan.  Then begin to work on your Annual Plan using your 3-5 Year Plan's Key Thrusts and Capabilities and your SWOT to help you determine which of these elements should be attacked in 2014.  Assign responsibilities and due dates for each key initiative you plan to undertake for 2014, then move to your Quarterly Plan which should then be a simple matter of reviewing your annual plans time lines and slipping them into the quarter with the deadlines to meet. 

Your annual plan and first quarter should have a theme.    You must determine the one element of your annual plan and your 1st quarter plan that is critical to complete.  What one objective will have the greatest impact on your achieving success in 2014?  What objective in the first quarter will have that same kind of impact on the quarter and the year if you could only accomplish one thing?

The One Thing for the quarter and year provides inspiration for your Theme.  Your Theme drives the message of your intentions throughout the organization.   Put together a theme group to help you build excitement and develop the dashboards to measure your progress.  Set a budget for what it’s worth for the company to achieve this goal and help your theme group develop an appropriate reward and celebration for accomplishing the goal. 

Most importantly plan an inauguration meeting to announce the theme.  No matter that everyone on your staff can’t make the meeting because of their work shifts and schedules.  Schedule the announcement when the greatest number of your people can be there.  When done right, with showmanship and fanfare, you can count on the people that are there to move the theme message throughout the organizations.  Example: One of our Gazelles customers decided on a “Think Big!” quarterly theme.  The CEO entered the room riding an elephant.  You don’t have to be that elaborate.  One of my clients themes was “Take Flight!”   The CEO dressed up in a pilot’s uniform, several of the Theme Group dressed as flight attendants and decorated the conference room  with floor lights, motion discomfort bags, and oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling. 

Set the stage right and the communication issues most companies face will be completely eliminated.  Make sure you place your dashboard in a prominent place where everyone can see it.  Departments are liable to have different metrics for their contribution, so make sure each has a dashboard to monitor and then one ultimate scorecard for what the company’s One Thing is. 

Next blog we’ll explore the Seven Strata of Strategy, discovering what each element is and why it can impact your top line revenue growth.  

Topics: quarterly meetings, themes, Annual Plan, One Page Strategic Plan, Alignment, Strategy Statement, 3-5 year plan

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Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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