At Elate, we have the opportunity to work with strategy and operations leaders at some of the fastest-growing companies today. From venture backed startups to publicly traded companies, we are fortunate enough to get a glimpse into growth at every stage of a company's journey.
In working alongside these high growth companies, we've seen more responsibility placed on strategy and operations leaders to solve for the challenges that come with growth. Further, we've seen these same companies actually turn to strategy and operations leaders as a catalyst for driving growth and unlocking new opportunities within the business.
As Russell Lester, CFO at Calendly, shares on Aspiring Ops, strategy and operations teams must, "Create timely, accurate, relevant, and proactively persuasive insights that drive growth, efficiency, and delight customers."
The challenge for many strategy and operations leaders is how to introduce the strategic planning framework and strategic planning tools needed to surface these insights and help drive action throughout the business.
However, in addition to building the strategic planning framework, strategy and operations leaders are also tasked with justifying why a high growth company needs to add structure and a strategic planning process when the business is growing.
For experienced leaders, these might be challenges you've overcome countless times. But for those looking to introduce strategy tools and frameworks for the first time, we'd like to share some of the quick tips we've found to be successful in justifying the need for strategic planning process and tools at a high growth company.
Remove Friction, Grow Faster
So let's start with one of the most tangible values of introducing a strategic planning framework and the tools to execute on it.
At every high growth company we've worked with at Elate, time is in short supply. Often employees are pulled in multiple directions, flexing across different areas of the business to fill holes that might exist within your current process and structure. In fairness, this is to be expected at an early stage company.
Part of the appeal for anyone joining a startup or high growth company is that you will be exposed to new areas of the business and stretched to grow in ways that are uncomfortable.
However, as your company scales, roles should become more defined. The inefficiencies that might have caused deals to slip through the cracks or a lack of structure that causes a gap in communication should be corrected. Not only will this help make your employees more effective, it makes your company's growth more efficient.
As succinctly as John Cozad, SVP of Operations at Gravy, puts it on Aspiring Ops, "The goal of operations is to remove friction and help people as you scale."
By implementing a strategic planning framework for growth, you are helping to create a process for validating priorities, creating a forum for discussing processes that should exist, and ultimately, removing distractions from areas that don't unlock opportunities in the business.
A framework and strategic planning software can validate even the most basic strategic planning model, and allow for friction to be removed for your employees to effectively focus on their roles and responsibilities.
Stay Aligned and Focused
Similar to removing friction for employees, a strategic planning framework can help improve the effectiveness of your employees by keeping them aligned and focused on company priorities.
Life at a startup can be a difficult balance of feeling pulled in too many directions, while staying nimble and encouraging ideation. From countless new ideas being suggested at all times to a seemingly endless list of projects to be completed, it's easy for the proper balance to fall by the wayside with a heavy focus in one area or the other.
A common misconception to strategic planning is that it takes away from a company's ability to be innovative and dynamic. The fear is that too much structure will take away from the advantage of a startup or high growth company. However, by implementing a lightweight, intuitive structure for strategic planning, a company can finally strike the right balance of structure with innovation.
By implementing a strategic planning framework, strategy and operations leaders can help take all of the one-off conversations, siloed opinions, and natural chaos that comes with life at a quickly growing company, and centralize them into one common source. Further, a strategic planning framework can help provide an agreed upon process and structure for how companies propose, review, and even finalize new initiatives.
Rather than having the loudest voice in the room win or having attention constantly shifting towards the new shiny idea, having a proper forum for discussion will help keep your leadership team aligned, and in turn, your employees.
End the Check-in Madness
As a company grows there is inevitably an awkward period where you no longer have visibility into what's going on throughout the organization. You are no longer involved in every initiative or even have updated on KPIs driving performance of critical goals.
To help solve this, company's have turned to a few different options that require the proverbial 'check-in' or 'KPI update'.
Maybe it's a Google Sheet you send out to employees every week to provide an update on how their objective or key results are performing. It could even be a traditional performance management tool asking for a 'pulse check' on how things are going.
Ultimately, these methods of keeping tabs on what's going on can feel like time cards being punched by employees.
For companies that turn to these 'check-in' structures as a way to keep visibility and alignment across the business, they are falling into the trap of creating unhealthy behaviors across their teams.
To begin with, you're immediately asking employees to duplicate their work, while increasing the very real feeling of 'software fatigue'. The likelihood is that the check-in or KPI update you're asking for already lives somewhere else. For sales and marketing, maybe it lives in Salesforce or Hubspot. Across product and engineering, Jira or Shortcut might be the tool they use regularly. Wherever that data lives, as strategy and operations leaders, we should want access to it.
By implementing a strategic planning framework and tools to facilitate the framework, you can leverage valuable insights to help drive decision making and communication across your business. Further, you can highlight how the specific performance of employees contributes to your larger company goals.
However, the planning framework can only bring to life insights if your team has a solution to connect KPIs from your existing data sources, and automate an otherwise tedious task for employees.
Additionally, by placing a focus on goals and the intuitive process of tracking performance against goals, you can highlight what metrics truly matter to your company. For many employees, actually seeing the goals the business is focused on allows them to ask the question, 'How can I contribute towards that overall goal?'
Talk about a win, win.
The Strategic Planning Platform for Today's Leaders
With the rise in Strategic Planning as a competitive advantage for high growth companies, it is becoming more common for companies to embrace goal-setting frameworks to help drive execution towards a company's overall Strategic Plan.
As strategy and operations leaders take on more responsibility in building the framework for driving strategic planning and execution, it is critical that they have the right solution to bring their framework to life.
Elate is the leading Strategic Planning software built to help high growth companies communicate their vision, create alignment, and track performance all in one place.
If you're interested in learning more about how we are working with leading strategy and operations leaders to bring their strategic plan to life, then feel free to reach out to our team. We'd love to share more about how Elate can help scale your company and provide your team with a solution to turn your strategic planning techniques and operating framework into a competitive advantage.