What is OGSM and How Does it Work?

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What is OGSM and How Does it Work?
Caterina Maluenda, Project Manager, Netherlands

The OGSM methodology enables you to do business planning quickly and effectively. As long as you dare to make critical and difficult choices, OGSM will help you create a well- structured strategic plan that provides insight into your organization’s goals and how to achieve them.

What is OGSM?💡
OGSM is a strategic planning method that helps you concretize your plans, dreams and ideas and make them achievable. What’s unique about OGSM is that it’s fast and effective, leading to a plan on one page. OGSM can be used for organizations or individual life goals. More than simply creating a plan, OGSM also guides you through the steps to make your goals actionable: because realizing your dreams is even more fun than dreaming them.

What can you use the OGSM model for?
OGSM is commonly referred to as a business planning method, but you can use it for any type of plan: department plans, annual plans, project plans, personal plans and any other plans. Essentially, OGSM takes a clear goal and subsequently translates this goal into concrete steps and a way to execute them. It’s a uniquely simple, well-structured and effective method that you can use to achieve any goal without unnecessary complexity.

What does OGSM stand for?
OGSM is short for Objective, Goals, Strategies & Measures. Together these components form the basis of a good and effective business plan on 1 page.

The ‘O’ in OGSM stands for ‘Objective’. The objective is the qualitative aim and ambition of the plan. The Objective describes the conditions that you want to achieve during the agreed-upon time period. The Objective sets the direction for the whole plan. A good qualitative objective meets the following requirements:
- It needs to be ambitious, but achievable
- It needs to be intellectually sound and emotionally resonant
- It needs to be intuitively understandable and easy to explain in your own words
- Achieving the objective needs to lead to complete satisfaction
- All important elements need to be present
- The Objective should not include any superfluous elements without which satisfaction could also exist.
- It needs to give direction

If the Objective is a qualitative ambition, Goals are a translation of that ambition into quantitative targets. This ensures that all stakeholders of the OGSM have the same defiintion of the words from the objective. When you achieve all your Goals, the Objective should also be realized. Ideally, you want to use the lowest possible number of goals that are necesary to make it indesputable that you achieved the Objective of the OGSM. Make sharp and critical choices for Goals that are truly important and make sure the Goals are ‘SMART’: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Strategies describe the specific choices you make and approaches you’ve selected to realize your Goals. These should describe how you focus your resources, such as employees, money and time. Similar to the goals, it is important to choose critically and ensure the Strategies reflect real choices in areas relevant to your plan, for example organization, partners, innovations, etc. You want to focus on a limited number of Strategies and ensure they are specific, selective, sustainable, synchronized, and sufficient.

The component of OGSM called ‘Measures’ really consists of two separate elements: a ‘Dashboard’ and an ‘Action Plan’. This split within Measures is not native to OGSM, but was introduced to improve the clarity of the model by Marc van Eck (one of our co-founders) & Ellen van Zanten.
- The Dashboard includes key performance indicators that tell you whether or not a strategy is on track
- The Action Plan includes the projects or actions that enable the practical realization of your strategies, as well as data on who & when will execute them.

5 secrets to a good OGSM
We’ve mentioned a couple of times that it is necessary to make clear choices in order to get a quality OGSM, and that practice has shown that less is more. But how exactly do you create a good OGSM? Here’s five essential tips:

1. What-by-How approach
Clear and sharp choices are made using the What-by-How approach. This is a component of OGSM that has been added by Marc van Eck & Ellen van Zanten. What-by-How means that your Objective, Strategies and Actions should consist of two elements: a ‘What’ part and a ‘How’ part. For example: “Deliver a new website by collaborating with a web development partner.” What is it that we want to achieve? And how are we going to achieve this? Always take a moment to reflect on the decisions you made in your OGSM and ask yourself: do I have both a ‘What’ and a ‘How’? In case you didn’t, you now know exactly what to change!

2. Sharp and Smart Goals
In other management methods, achieving even 75% of the goals may lead to great enthusiasm, but that’s not the case with OGSM. With OGSM, everything should be planned to be realistic and achievable. For that reason, it’s very important that your Goals are clear and that you make them SMART. Specific and measurable goals have a percentage, a measure, or a number in them, ensuring you can ‘tick the box’ once you have achieved it. The goals should be ambitious, but achievable: they need to really make a difference. The desired result should be well-defined, and you should specify the exact timing for you to reach that Goal. You should aim to reach all the goals at the end of the set time period.

3. No more than 5 strategies
When it comes to Strategies, we tend to say less is more. But how many is too many? A maximum of 5 strategies is recommended, because you tend to get better results out out of handling a few Strategies really well. This forces you to make clear strategic choices and not spread your efforts too thin.

4. Choose existing measurements
It is wise to choose Dashboard Measures for your OGSM that are already being used in the organisation. Experience shows that it’s often more efficient to use an existing measurement that is 80% associated with being on track, than to set up a new measurement that is 100% aligned. If you do decide to use a new Dashboard Measure, take sometime to think carefully about how you can do this as practically as possible.

5. Monitor your plan
Setting up your OGSM is only the beginning. Following up on your plan and habitually working within the framework of the OGSM is key. In the follow-up process, you should constantly reflect on the strategies and measures and make adjustments as you go. This ensures that the OGSM stays representative for your organization and that people still feel enthusiastic about it. Continue to apply the mechanics of OGSM as well as possible. If your OGSM starts to show technical inaccuracies, this can have serious consquences for the effectiveness of the framework.

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Other Views by this Author: OGSM for Health Care | OGSM for MBA / BBA Students | Cascading an OGSM | OKR versus OGSM

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