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How to communicate your strategy on one side of A4

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When employees understand their overall role in a business 91% will work towards this success, but this number plummets to just 23% if they don’t.

Bill Quirke, Managing Director, Synopsis Internal Communication Consultancy.

Does everyone in your business know the overall strategy for the year?
Is your team aware of its own priorities and its unique function in the bigger picture?

Actually, it’s surprising just how many employees carry out their daily work without this knowledge. Making strategy clear to all employees is often left out of communication plans, either because it’s taken for granted that teams are already in the know, or there’s a belief that they aren’t so interested in this type of topline information. Yet, knowing the direction you’re going in and being able to prioritise your own work according to the grand plan is vital to performance. And the good news is – it doesn’t have to be complicated.

A Strategy Articulation Chart is a great way to convey company direction and help teams build and depict their own strategy, step by step, with the involvement and buy-in of team members.

The chart is a one-page document with horizontal layers:

  • the company vision or mission (the ‘why’) at the top
  • then the three to five key priority strategies (the ‘what’)
  • followed by the objectives or initiatives (the ‘how to ensure the strategic priorities are carried out’)
  • and finally the measures (‘how much and when’) for tracking targets and progress.

These layers can be adapted and changed as necessary to add in other elements such as company values. Once constructed it becomes a handy document to reference and track progress at regular update meetings, to aid cross-functional communication through sharing priorities across teams, and to review once a year for changes.

strategy chart business (2)

Ideally, each division, department and team would have their own charts all stemming from the main company strategy (linked by company vision/mission and key strategies on the top layer).  Whatever the level, the process can be used either to turn a hefty existing  strategy document into an easily understood pictogram, or to start strategy from scratch.

To create a Strategy Articulation Chart at team level requires a session of dedicated away-from-the-desk time to brainstorm, and agree on, the content for the different levels.

How to schedule the strategy session for a team:

  1. Set aside 3 to 4 hours when all team members (at whichever level you are creating the map) are available.
  2. Ensure you have details of company and any higher level (division or department) strategy to work with.
  3. Brainstorm in groups or whole team at each level:
    • Mission Statement (what does the team do now?) and/or Vision Statement (what does the team aspire to do in the future?) – ask questions such as ‘what are we doing?’, ‘why are we doing it?’ ‘what value do we add?’, etc.
    • The key 3 to 5 strategic priorities your team needs to focus on for the year to fulfil and extend its potential.
    • The main tasks, objectives, initiatives, projects that the team need to action in order to meet those strategic priorities.
    • The targets to attain, and measurement processes that will enable the team to track progress and attainment.
  4. Use your one-page chart to prioritise workload within the team, review progress in your regular team meeting, communicate your priorities across teams.
  5. Review and revise your chart each year.

Come to think of it, why limit this idea just to business – we could all do with help keeping our New Year resolutions, and a personal chart on the kitchen notice board would be a great way to remind us of our goals and targets!

strategy chart personal (2)

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Penelope Newton-Hurley is a Communication Troubleshooter,Consultant, Trainer and Mediator
The Communication Troubleshooter helps drive engagement and performance through Emotional Intelligence and CommPassion© Communication techniques.

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1 Comment

  1. Phil says:

    Thanks Penny, food for thought. For free.

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