Building your Strategy-Execution Roadmap

Successful strategy execution requires more than strategic objectives and priorities. More than glossy diagrams... it requires a Strategy-Execution Roadmap (which will later inform what we do, our OKRs, and the Modern Management System). We will call this the “Strategic Framing” – like the framing for building a house. It is the framing that determines the overall structure, but all the details – wiring, plumbing, heating, windows, etc. still need to be added.


Executive Summary

To ensure the successful execution of your organization’s strategy we need both the “Top-Down” setting of the overall roadmap to success, and the“ bottom-up” knowledge of the detailed activities that need to be accomplished.

In some situations, thebest approach is to allow leadership to capture what they think needs to bedone to achieve strategic success. We will call this the “Strategic Framing” –like the framing for building a house. It is the framing that determines theoverall structure, but all the details – wiring, plumbing, heating, windows,etc. still need to be added.

This Strategic Framinggets passed to the rest of the organization to add in the details – what iscreated we call the Strategy-Execution Roadmap. It benefits from thedirectional wisdom of Leadership and the Operational wisdom of theorganization.

From the top-down, theStrategy-Execution Roadmap answers the layers of “How do we do that?”. Thebottom-up view looks like layers of answering “Why do we do that?”

This blog outlines the easiest route to creating a Strategy-Execution Roadmap.


Step 1: Develop a Strategy

For this blog, we are going to assume you have developed your organization’s strategy. We are not going into the details of how to create your strategy – you can find that elsewhere. We assume you’ll have between five and fifteen Strategic Objectives.


Step 2: Ask “How?”

For each Objective ask the Leadership Team “How will we achieve this Objective?”. Strategy is all about focus, so limit your answer to the “three” most impactful things that your organization could do this year. Think of these as the three things you could do with the biggest impact on the top-level Objective. These three things are the key drivers of your organization’s performance. We call these the 1st Level Performance Drivers (LPD’s).

So, for example, let’ssay  that one of your organization’s 10top-level objectives is “Drive Sales”. After consideration your team mightdecide that the three things you can do with the greatest return are:

·        Increase sales people's productivity

·        enter new markets, and

·        launch new products

As a mind map, it would look like this:

1st Level Performance Drivers (LPD)


We have found that a “Strategic-ROI[1]”criterion is an effective tool to surface the big-three things your organization needs to do in a way that everyone can quickly agree on the selection.

As you build yourStrategy Execution Roadmap, you will begin to see “event horizons”. These arethe boundaries that separate the Top-Level Objective from the 1stLPD.

1st Strategy-Execution Event Horizon (the green area)


These 1stLPDs may be either ‘run the business’ or ‘change the business’.


Step 3 to n: Repeat (step 2) for each next level

For each Sub-Objective ask the Leadership Team “How will we achieve this Sub-Objective?”. You may find better results by including your next level of management in these conversations. Again, agree on the three key drivers to achieve the sub-objective. We call these the 2ndLevel Performance Drivers (LPD’s).

So, in our (above)example, let’s look at the 1st LPD of “Increase Sale’s people’sproductivity”. After consideration your team might decide that the three thingsyou can do with the greatest return are:

·        Train existing salespeople

·        Reduce nonproductive time

·        Implement Salesforce [project]

Your mind map will now look like this:

2nd LPD added onto the Strategy-Execution Roadmap




The completed 1st and 2nd LPD Strategy Execution Roadmap for “Drive Sales”

Completed 2nd LPD for the top-level Objective "Drive Sales"
1st and 2nd level Strategy-Executio0n Event Horizons





Top-down or bottom-up?

There are benefits from building your Strategy-Execution Roadmap from the top down, namely:

·        You harvest the wisdom of your leadership team and capture the intention of the top level strategy beyond what words or explanations can accomplish

·        Leadership can quickly develop the framework (think of framing a building, or a skeleton) to help avoid needless considerations as the strategy cascades

The benefits of building your Strategy-Execution Roadmap from the bottom up include:

·        You harvest the wisdom gained from current daily activities and market realities that leadership may not be aware of

·        You capture activities that might be “below the radar” - things that leadership doesn't see because it is too detailed to be within their jurisdiction

Obviously the best approach depends on your organization, but overall it makes sense to iterate between these two approaches to make sure you capture overlaps and under-laps.



The bottom up approach is similar to the “top-down” approach (above), but the question the team asks itself is “For our three key activities, why are we doing this?” which should give them the up-stream objective.

Building your strategy execution road map using Key Results –another trick that some organizations have found handy is to consider the key results for each top level objective and use those to inspire the 1st LPD selection.  

In the “Drive Sales” example we have been using, lets say the following Key Results were identified:


The “$Sales/Rep Key Result might inspire the 1st LPD “Increase Sales-people’s productivity”, “$ New markets” would inspire “Enter new markets” and “$New products” would inspire “Launch new products”

Top-level Key Results will inspire the 1st LPD creation


While we are on the topic of Key Results

We have also seeing how some organizations can use the 1st LPD’s Key Results to inform the best key results for the top level objective. In this case the best 1st LPD Key Results are promoted to also be reported at the top-level Objective level.

Promote 1st LPD Key Results up to the Top-Level Objective



[1]NOTE: Strategic-ROI assesses the Strategy-Points Returned On Investments ($,time, capacity) within the strategic time-horizon. For example a project that returns 1,000 Strategy points for $50K is more attractive than one that returns500 strategy points for $30K. Strategy points consider the strategic gain made, regardless of financial return.

Brett Knowles

Brett Knowles is a thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications.

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