In my observation over the years, most companies explode when they try turning their strategic plans into operating plans. They have good ideas and capable workers, just no cohesive way to organize and contextualize the work. That is the purpose of the operating plan.
Just as my favorite framework for internal “business plans” is Ash Maurya's “Lean Canvas,” my favorite framework for “organizational goals” comes from Patrick Lencioni's book The Advantage. I introduced that framework when I described how to define an organization's mission, vision and values in Part One. The second part of the framework is more relevant to execution and goal setting. Lencioni divides it into three levels: “Thematic Goals,” “Defining Objectives,” and “Standard Operating Objectives.” Those are a little different from my presentation of the process in this chapter but the spirit is the same.
There are many different formats that operating plans can take and a variety of acronyms to go with them. No one of these formats is “right,” but I'll share the key process steps my own team and I go through to turn our strategic planning into action plans, synchronizing our activities across products and groups.