Aspiring Ops Advice: How to Optimize for Success with Strategic Initiatives
June 21, 2022
Aspiring Ops Advice: How to Optimize for Success with Strategic Initiatives

On Season Four of Aspiring Ops, we had the opportunity to meet with some incredible Strategy and Operations Leaders who are helping drive execution at world-class companies. With the continued investment companies are making in building world-class operations teams, these Leaders are taking on an even greater role in overseeing the success of strategic initiatives across the company. But if we learned one thing from season four and our past Aspiring Ops guests, it’s that success doesn’t come overnight. 

For many of these leaders, optimizing for success starts with a foundation that key initiatives can be built on. From how these initiatives are developed to the roll out and communication of them across teams, the path to success comes well before any initiative ever makes it off the ground.

From season four of Aspiring Ops, we learned why the right processes and technology can be just as important as the actual execution of your strategy. Here are just some of our favorite clips from guests on how they optimize strategic initiatives for success. 

Focus on Developing Initiatives and Demonstrating Alignment  

For BeyondTrust, the investment made in building a great strategy and operations team can be seen throughout the business. Nowhere is this more evident than in how their team communicates the ‘why’ behind key initiatives and the process for how initiatives are brought to life. On episode seven of Aspiring Ops, Jordan Gift, Director of Strategic Initiatives at BeyondTrust, shares that for their company, the emphasis comes in how they first develop any initiative. 

While not all companies will have a Transformation Office to help bring initiatives to life, every Strategy and Operations Leader can take note of the process BeyondTrust has implemented to set their teams up for success. BeyondTrust thinks of strategic initiatives in four phases: 

  • Development
  • Planning 
  • Implementation 
  • Execution 

As Jordan shares, “When we started the Transformation Office, we were really heavy in the fourth bucket around Execution. Now, we’ve started to move the needle on being on the leading edge of initiatives. People come to us now when they’re thinking about a project, objective, or initiative, instead of in the execution phase, which can be a little more tedious and have more tactical issues if the leader hasn’t had support along the way.” 

When thinking about optimizing for success with strategic initiatives, it’s important to create processes that help you start off with a strong foundation. 

Empower Transparency While Creating a Unified View

For Toby Carrington, EVP of Global Operations at Seismic, two of the fundamental principles he’s helped to instill across the company are transparency and visibility. Although it might seem basic, transparency and visibility are incredibly hard to achieve at a fast-growing company like Seismic.

“A mistake that we made when we were originally dealing with OKRs as a company is that we weren’t as transparent as we could have been across the organization,” shares Toby. But as the company grew, visibility into strategic initiatives (and) OKRs couldn’t just live at the top level. They needed to find a way to create a unified view that aligned everyone. 

Toby mentions that one of the main objectives at Seismic is to ensure they are showing how different objectives are connected, and creating transparency around how everyone’s contributions are aligned towards the company vision. While this might seem easy, it’s actually one of the more challenging parts of building a strategic plan and ensuring objectives are set up for success. 

For Toby and Seismic, creating a unified view and a clear review cadence for OKRs in meetings finally helped bring this to life. 

Clearly Communicate the ‘Why’

From the foundation of strategic initiatives to the transparency of them across the company, for the best Strategy and Operations Leaders, success of an initiative isn’t just about the tactical execution. For many initiatives, much of the success comes well before the initiative is ever in flight. 

So when Christy Lynn White, Chief of Staff at Fullscript, shared that one of her biggest areas of focus is on communicating the ‘why’ to employees, it certainly aligned with the other advice we heard throughout Season Four. 

“Town hall communication and the way that we can leverage audience with the entire company to explain the ‘why’ helps (Fullscript) pivot faster,” shares Christy. “It helps get people aligned and onboard faster.” 

For many companies, building a strategic plan with a set of key initiatives or OKRs is more about checking the box than it is on optimizing for success and unlocking growth. But as Christy highlights, when you proactively communicate with team members and share, ‘Here’s what we’re doing and why’, then when change does come, as it inevitably will, team members have the necessary context to change with you. –

As Christy highlights, you should proactively communicate with team members and share, ‘Here’s what we’re doing and why’. When change then inevitably comes, team members have the necessary context to change with you.

Unlock Your Strategy 

As we continue to see the rise in Strategy and Operations across leading companies, the ability to build a world-class strategic plan and deliver high-level execution will be critical to success for any Strategy and Operations Leader. But for so many, there is an urge to jump directly into execution without first setting a foundation for long-term success.

Whether it is rolling out an OKR framework to employees without context or simply going through the motions during the strategic planning process, it is easy to stumble into the countless traps that have plagued so many companies. Especially for high-growth companies, moving fast without ensuring alignment can lead to a foundation built on sand, rather than solid ground.

We know, because we’ve seen it firsthand. 

At Elate, we’re a team of former Strategy and Operations Leaders who saw the need to evolve the way companies think about strategic planning and execution. Built by Strategy and Operations Leaders for Strategy and Operations Leaders, Elate helps high-growth companies build, execute, and review their strategic plan to drive alignment and visibility like never before.

As you heard from Toby, Jordan, and Christy, execution starts with the foundation you are building on, as well as the cadence for how you are constantly revisiting your ‘why’. We believe this is the new standard of operating for Strategy and Operations Leaders, called Dynamic Planning. It’s the way world class teams can align on a shared vision while focusing on execution every step of the way.

With Elate, we help companies set a long-term vision, define annual goals, and build quarterly objectives. All in one platform that brings your strategy to life. If you’re interested in learning more about how Elate is working with Strategy and Operations leaders at companies like Seismic, BeyondTrust, and Fullscript, feel free to reach out today.