How OGSM kick-started our team and strategy deployment

Pressure cooker in Marrakech

As you may have read in one of our previous blogs, we had a narrow escape early March from Morocco. Whilst we were in Marrakech, to build our team and define our strategy for the next three years, our return flight was cancelled by the airline.

The Moroccan airspace would close within 48 hours. Calm and collected crisis management got us home safely and timely. But that is not the point of this blog.

This blog is about our personal experience with the OGSM approach and how it currently helps us to manage and steer our strategy deployment process, especially in this (post) Covid-19 timeframe.

Our shortened stay in Marrakech was an exceptional teambuilding event. We could not have designed it ourselves this way! Despite the stress and anxiety due to the uncertainty about our returnflight, we managed to set up a draft version of the first half of the OGSM. We defined our objective and goals before we were repatriated on Sunday evening.

Safe return and follow through

Immediately the next day we got together in our office in Zeist. Meeting with colleagues in the office was still allowed at that time. We took a day and ran several workshops to define the strategies and measures, required to deliver our objective and goals which we had designed in Marrakech. A few days later we went into lockdown along with the rest of the country. After the first shock we realised we had our OGSM and decided to use this as our guidance during the next month’s where we were forced to work remotely most of the time.

Our objective as shown here, might seem a bit ambitious for a niche player like HillFive.

Still we decided to go for it, because we are dedicated to manage our firm on the principle of Customer Intimacy. Take our clients business challenges as a starting point and deliver tangible business results for our clients. Remember the concept of value disciplines by Treacy and Wiersema?

Over the past few months, we have experienced the effectiveness of the OGSM approach. Especially in these CCT (Corona Crisis Times), where everybody was forced to work remotely and only online meetings were feasible. We are currently in our 12th week of driving our strategy forward with the OGSM that we built in March and we have completed 42% of our deliverables. For those who are not yet familiar with the concept of OGSM, a brief explanation of what it actually is. The picture below explains it to a large extend.

It is fair to say that, even though we are building and applying OGSM’s in many of our client’s organisations, I was positively surprised by the impact of the approach. It only took a few workshops to set it up, and it provided us with great focus and transparency. Everybody knows what is expected by when and who is supposed to deliver what output, without further massive communications and coordination efforts.


Since all this did not happen automatically, I would like to offer an overview of the lessons we learned along the way. We feel that, apart from the tool itself, there were several additional things we did, that enabled the successful implementation so far.

  1. Including teambuilding brings maximum impact

In hindsight we believe that our Marrakech trip was a blessing in disguise. It turned out as a pressure cooker for teambuilding. Something we believe was crucial for the success of our OGSM implementation in this Covid-19 period. Although OGSM may seem a ‘hard’ tool, focused on objectives and goals, in an interesting way it also gave room for people’s mindset and anxieties. Because the structure is there we could also give space for emotions and feelings. People have them, there is no denying. That’s why we have included ‘a mindful minute’ at the start of our meetings. From my own experience I can say: it is great!

  1. It provides focus and alignment

The OGSM framework gave us tremendous focus and alignment especially in the situation where we had to work remotely and online. Our objective, the goals and how we wanted to achieve them was crystal clear for everybody right from the start. It raises efficiency ánd employee satisfaction. Two factors that are often seen as mutually exclusive.

  1. Progress tracking requires attention

Even though we limited ourselves to five goals and a few strategies per goal, the final OGSM was quite substantial.

This made progress tracking more difficult than initially anticipated. To mitigate this complexity we designed a traffic light dashboard based on a simple spreadsheet. For every measure we defined specific deliverables and a responsible person. Example: we set a target of 4 events in 2020. We put ‘event’ in four cells in the spreadsheet and started to fill them in as our ideas became more concrete. We added the colour coding for visual management: green = event completed, yellow = idea agreed, white = to be defined. In figure 2 below there is a graphical idea of the concept we used.

  1. Build it into your management system

As good management practice we have several regular structured meetings to manage our business. To make sure we kept the OGSM and the progress on it on our radar, we adjusted the terms of reference of one of our regular meetings and integrate the topic of OGSM progress review there. This provided us with the opportunity to discuss progress, issues and adjustments on a regular basis.

  1. Keep it flexible

Soon after we launched our OGSM new ideas and initiatives came up. Some big, some small. We believe this is great and have labelled it as a sign of energy and creativity. After all the world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. No further explanation required I guess. We are convinced that freezing the OGSM for a year without any possibility to adjust would bring us very efficiently in the wrong place. At the same time we have introduced ‘a golden rule’. Any new initiative should be reviewed and assessed to establish the positive contribution against our objective and goals. If it brings added value we include it, if not we dismiss it. After inclusion, overall priorities and timing are reset to keep the workload under control.

How it applies to you?

Whenever you need to:

  • build a team that has focus on behaviour ánd business objectives;
  • integrate two or more departments after a merger;
  • redefine your business objectives and priorities because Covid-19 has destroyed your budget and business plan for the year.

We would strongly recommend to consider OGSM as a possible approach.

In case you want to know more, please feel free to contact me.


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