[vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DELIVER YOUR STRATEGY?” alignment=”left” spacer=”line_only” spacer_position=”middle” line_height=”3″ line_color=”#f88379″ main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” main_heading_line_height=”desktop:44px;” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:15px;” sub_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” sub_heading_font_size=”desktop:22px;” sub_heading_line_height=”desktop:32px;” sub_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:25px;” line_width=”200″ spacer_margin=”margin-bottom:35px;”][/ultimate_heading][vc_column_text]We have all been to one. An offsite where the 3 – 5 year strategic plan is presented, the growth opportunities and cost pressures are outlined, and the great new ideas that will revolutionise your organisation are workshopped. The leadership team feels positive and is energised by the clarity of “what” problems it needs to solve and “why” something needs to be done. For the first time you all feel aligned and committed to a joint outcome and the potential of you all. It was a great offsite and you even signed up to a plan that states “when” things will be done by. It was an awesome day!

But wait a minute…

How do you know “when” you can do something by if you haven’t understood “how” and “who” you need? It’s like a builder agreeing to a deadline for a house without understanding how big it is or who he needs to finish it.

The missing opportunities

Leaders who don’t explore “how” and “who” as part their strategy and chose to go straight to “when” miss two opportunities to bring their strategy to life.

Bypassing “how” misses your opportunity to explore options, look at innovative ways to solve the “what” and get input from the team who will ultimately need to deliver it. Think of it as like going to straight to jail in Monopoly. Something that you will have to pay to get out of, only to find that you missed out on Park Lane and Mayfair whilst you were busy.

Ignoring “who” means you haven’t explored whether your team is capable of delivering or who else you might need to fill a capability or capacity gap. Think of a coach who wanted to win the final, only to realise he had a team of defenders? He’s unlikely to succeed and his players will be left demoralised by his unrealistic targets that they couldn’t meet.

Introducing the What – Why – How – Who – When model

The what – why – how- who – when model is a step-by-step way of building your strategic plan. Individually each part is not revolutionary and there are many books on strategy that cover similar ground (more on my favorite books later). The difference with this model is what happens when they are done in the right order and the potential that is unleashed in your organisation when these points intersect. Let’s explore.

At the centre of the model and every organisation is your strategy, as Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan said in their book “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” the basic goal of a strategy is:


To win the customer’s preference and create a sustainable competitive advantage, whilst leaving sufficient money on the table for shareholders


To successfully execute your strategy the model outlines that a leader needs to systematically step through:

  • What organisational problems it needs to solve to achieve it’s strategy;
  • Why these problems need to be solved and the benefits the organisation expects to see;
  • Potential options on How the organisational problems could be solved;
  • Who the organisation needs to solve it in terms of skills and experience and do they have the potential required to deliver it;
  • When it can be solved by considering all of the above.

There are 120 different ways that you can order the 5 circles in the model (I counted!) but this is the only order that avoids the common problems that leaders face in executing their strategy. For example:

  • If you start with when you need to do something by, good luck fitting in the right how in time.
  • If you base your plan around who is available then I hope you’re lucky and they are the right people to deliver what you need, by when.
  • If you think you can start with how because you’re the boss and know the right solution then alright, but you might miss an opportunity that your team or competitors know about and you don’t.

In my next post I will explore what happens at the points of intersect and how the 5C’s – Cause, Creativity, Competence, Challenge & Completion – can inspire the potential of your team to innovate and execute.

If you would like notifications about this or my other posts or are interested in arranging an upcoming workshop for your business, please sign up for my fortnightly newsletter or contact me at julia@juliasteel.com.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]