Cascading an OGSM

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Cascading an OGSM
Caterina Maluenda, Project Manager, Netherlands

OGSM: A simple method to achieve your goals.

What does that mean?
OGSM is a systematic and disciplined but simple method for organizations to develop a strategy, communicate it, and execute it. It allows different parts of your organization to focus on a limited number of important goals.
Formulating and realizing the strategy is not just a job for the upper management, however. Just like ‘regular’ targets in an organization, the effective execution of an OGSM strategy is only possible when it is ‘translated’ (or split up) into different (international) divisions, departments, teams, or even individuals. That process of translating or subdividing is called cascading.

What does cascading an OGSM look like?
In essence, cascading means little more than splitting up your main Objective into a number of smaller sub-goals that, if realized, together add up to the Objective. These sub-goals then operate as the Objectives of one or more underlying OGSMs.
The way to do this goes through the Strategies of the higher-level OGSM. After all, these Strategies connect to the Goals of the strategic plan and bring the Objective of the organization or the department within reach. In short: by cascading, you can make your goals more concrete and manageable for your organization. Individual departments, teams and employees can work on lower-level objectives that are realistic for them to achieve, without losing sight of the higher-level strategic objective.

What are the ways to cascade an OGSM?
There are several ways to cascade an OGSM. Broadly, you can distinguish two types:
Vertical cascading: When you subdivide your strategic objective over sub-goals by country, region, department or team, we call this ‘vertical’ cascading. A subdivision over the different phases of a Customer Journey is another example of vertical cascading.
Horizontal cascading: You can also cascade ‘horizontally’, which means subdividing a plan over multiple calendar or financial years. For example, you may have a strategic business plan for 5 years, subdivided into 5 OGSM plans with the goals and strategies for each individual year.
Cascading by scenario: Finally, you can also ‘cascade’ or develop OGSMs by scenario. This isn’t technically a cascading or subdivision of your plan. But it means developing different strategic plans for multiple scenarios, for example for different rates of growth. The advantage of doing this is that you’ll have an idea of how to handle each scenario, so that you can quickly adjust course when the conditions change.

What is the best way to cascade an OGSM strategic plan?
It’s important to know that there is not one ideal way to cascade an OGSM (although we don’t recommend cascading merely across departments, since this can easily result in silo mentality). For a company organized by regions, a regional cascading would be the most obvious solution. But you could also opt for a cascading based on product groups, for example. One thing that all forms of cascading have in common is that they are best managed through some form of OGSM Software. After all, you’ll end up with large amounts of data for multiple strategic plans, which have to be monitored consistently and ‘added up’ to understand their contribution to the higher-level strategic objective. Using OGSM software makes this much easier and also let's you generate reports on multiple levels with a couple of mouse clicks.

Are there any useful tools that help when cascading an OGSM strategic plan?
OGSM is originally a Japanese management approach, based on a combination of Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives philosophy and the Plan-Do-Check-Act method of William Edwards Deming. Drucker is also the inventor of the ‘goal tree’ a tree structure of goals that are split into smaller sub-goals, each with its individual KPI’s.
Typically, goal trees are worked out from high-level to detailed, and from ‘hard’ to ‘soft’ KPIs. In the ‘trunk’ of the tree, we find the so-called Lagging indicators (outcomes such as profit, revenue, and customer or employee satisfaction). Those are then subdivided into goals related to efforts (the Leading indicators). A goal tree can be very helpful when developing an OGSM cascading.

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