We recently spent a day running a strategy workshop for DG Cities. DG Cities are a company wholly owned by Greenwich Council who exist to deliver smart cities projects, research and consultancy. We were lucky enough to have the whole company (12 people) in a room for a whole day. This was a great opportunity for us to develop and test a new strategy product.

The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Uncover what the company wanted to achieve, and how to get there
  • Build a collective understanding and ownership of those things

The company had already invested time and thought into setting a vision: “We aspire to be the go-to urban innovation company for city transformation.” What they didn’t have, however, were agreed strategic objectives or goals to focus their work on meeting that vision. Our job was to help them agree on the outcomes they wanted to work towards, and the deliverables that they could produce to meet them.

We decided to use a version of the ‘Logical Framework’ tool that we’ve been using for dxw digital’s own business plan.  It’s a really helpful approach to tackling organisational strategy and developing a roadmap for a business.

The framework starts with a focus on determining the outcomes you want to achieve as a company. You then tie the things you need to create (deliverables), and the things you need to do (activities) to these tangible outcomes. The basic logic is:

  • If you resource the activities, and carry them all out, you’ll achieve your deliverables
  • If those deliverables are produced, you’ll achieve the outcomes you want to meet
  • If those outcomes are achieved, you will have contributed meaningfully to your overall vision.

We used a mixture of discussion and group activities to work through the framework from the top.

What we achieved

We got to a collective agreement on the company’s major areas of focus – and a shopping list of what an outcome might look like for each one. We could have spent a whole day trying to agree on the wording for each of these, so ensured that we moved on before disappearing down any rabbit holes.

We then agreed on a set of priority deliverables for each of these areas, including some really important questions the company needs to answer like –  What’s our value proposition? Who do we want our customers to be?

What we learned

The conversation is as important as the end product. In this type of exercise, you’re never going to get a completed and polished strategic plan in one day –  and lots of new questions will come up. But we did get people thinking in a strategic way, working through problems logically, talking and debating with their colleagues, and agreeing the big things the company needs to focus on. The workshop generated new work to take forward, but the confidence that it was the right work to do.

Language is hard and people understand things in different ways. Outcomes, objectives, goals, deliverables, activities, etc – are not always easily distinguishable terms and often mean different things to different people. Clarity is key. Delivering workshops where the concepts can be nebulous needs really strong facilitation skills.

Working in partnership works really well. When there’s complexity or lots of questions in the room,  it’s really helpful to have people there who understand the business and have a solid understanding of the workshop methods.

What next

We’re developing this approach to form part of our dxw strategy ‘toolkit’ – which we’ll use and adapt for clients with similar challenges.

Get in touch to see how we can help your organisation.

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Original source – dxw digital

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