The Executive’s Trinity describes the three different types of work every executive should master. Devised by Stephen Bungay, author and consultant on strategy and leadership, the concept itself says little about OKR as a tool that organizations can use to execute strategy. But through the experience of one of our clients here at Perdoo, we’ve learned that combining The Executive’s Trinity and OKR is a recipe for success.
Tune into the Goal Digger’s podcast episode below to hear all about Mathis Christian’s (COO of Elopage) experience combining The Executive’s Trinity and OKR.
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What is The Executive’s Trinity?
The Executive’s Trinity is the art of mastering three skills: “directing, managing, and leading”.
You’d expect these to be titles or people within an organization, however, in fact it’s the three types of work every executive should master. An executive can exercise one or more of these roles given the specific situation they’re faced with.
Let’s take a closer look at the three roles:
The “Director” wears the intellectual hat. Taking on this role includes strategy development and designing long-term direction for the entire organization. It’s essential for directors to communicate the strategy and long-term plan in a way that everyone understands, in order for it to act as a guiding light for all business areas and people.
The “Manager“ role ensures the organization is a well-oiled machine. This role includes the physical aspect of managing the organization’s goals and resources to help the organization deliver its strategy and long-term plan.
The “Leader“ brings the people together to make sure they have everything they need to deliver their goals by inspiring, training, and coaching them. This is the human and moral element of leadership that creates a nurturing environment for teams and individuals.
Stephen Bungay elaborates on the concept further within his book “The Art of Action” — a must read for every senior executive. Bungay adds,
“The director is detached, calculating and flexible. The manager is engaged, realistic and pragmatic. The leader is committed, passionate and determined.”
Combining The Executive’s Trinity & OKR: a recipe for success
Bungay & Mathis Christian deliver The Executive’s Trinity training to equip executives with all the necessary knowledge and skills to master the three types of work needed to be successful leaders. Such training helps executives:
- Become experts at creating and providing direction by effectively communicating what people in an organization have to do and why.
- Master management by providing people with all the necessary resources and support, putting them in a position to be able to act.
- Lead their people effectively to maintain their willingness and engagement in helping an organization deliver its strategy.
During these training sessions, the “director” role is often the most challenging part. The first and most obvious realization that many execs have is that the organization’s goals don’t in fact align with the organization’s strategy and overall purpose.
Bungay often relates this scenario to the 90s pop song — “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. “Just tell me what you want, what you really really want.” It’s important for executives to define a strategy that portrays the organization’s true purpose and long-term aspirations.
It’s no different for OKRs. A successful OKR program begins with an organization’s strategy. To ensure your organization is aligned and everyone is pulling in the same direction, it’s crucial for directors to put strategy first and OKR second. Without your strategy in place, you won’t know the purpose your OKRs are fulfilling.
As Mathis Christian explains:
“It’s all too easy for teams to get stuck when defining OKRs, as the strategic direction is unclear. The Perdoo approach of defining the Ultimate Goal and Strategic Pillars before you define OKRs is a very good framework to overcome this.”
Once the organization and people know what it really really wants, “managers” then need to physically align their people, goals and resources to the strategy. Writing great outcome-based company and team OKRs helps to prioritize and focus on results that truly matter to the organization and its teams. It also ensures that the right people and resources are being used to deliver those results.
Throughout this process, executives need to ensure their people are engaged and that there’s enough support for them to deliver the activities needed to push the needle forward on the results that the organization and teams are aiming to achieve. This is where the “leader” role comes in.
The Executive’s Trinity provides executives with the skills and knowledge to formulate and deliver their strategy. OKR is then the medium through which they can implement that skill-set to bridge the strategy—execution gap. OKR, therefore, is a critical tool for CEOs and executives to help deliver strategy and accelerate growth.
How The Executive’s Trinity & OKR work in Perdoo
In Perdoo, the director begins by defining the organization’s Ultimate Goal — the reflection of what the organization truly wants. You’ll start by deciding the company’s overall purpose, for whom you’re delivering that purpose and when you’ll consider your organization successful.
The next step is to add your Strategic Pillars — the choices that explain how you’ll win that specific market, and what makes you different. Your strategy should be based on the fundamental drivers of success in the current environment, so you’ll need to decide which KPIs will measure success on your Strategic Pillars in the long run.
You’ll then define the organization’s long- and short-term direction by translating them into OKRs. At this stage it’s good to involve your people to understand what your focus should be — they have a wealth of knowledge that you shouldn’t miss out on. If you yourself won’t be actively working on your company goals, you can make your experts the leads.
Roadmap illustrates this strategic direction by visually connecting the organization’s strategy with the goals that’ll realize it. As such, everyone can see how their work fits into the bigger picture and the organization’s purpose.
Managing includes setting the stage and managing the logistics to deliver the organization’s strategy. This includes identifying and aligning people and resources so that the OKR program is actually set up to support company strategy. Managers consider which teams or departments will be supporting which Strategic Pillars. Likewise, they identify who would be suited to work on a particular Initiative that would support an OKR and, in turn, a Strategic Pillar.
They also set up a planning process that works to their organizational rhythm. Many organizations choose to set company OKRs annually, with teams and departments setting quarterly OKRs to support those company OKRs. Perdoo offers you the flexibility to work with OKRs at your own rhythm, by setting your own Cadences. Likewise, with Engagement Reports, executives have all the tools they need to maintain and monitor the health of their OKR program from quarter to quarter, taking the pain out of goal-setting.
The leader enables teams and individuals to effectively work on OKRs and Initiatives by inspiring, training, and coaching them. The leader creates an environment and culture of transparency that helps the OKR program thrive.
The leader’s role consolidates the work of the director and manager and provides a human touch to it by providing continuous inspiration and effective communication of what truly matters to the organization. In doing so, people understand what is expected of them and why.
Perdoo gives executives the tools to be effective leaders too. Beyond communicating strategy effectively with Roadmap, all employees will be encouraged to keep their goals top of mind with intelligent nudges to, for example, update their goals or review their team’s progress. Beyond the (hugely important) inspiration provided by the leader, employees will be constantly reminded of how they are contributing to the bigger picture and overall company growth. Many organizations choose to run all-hands meetings in Perdoo, as the single place where it all comes together.
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