"OGSM has helped us tremendously to structure and focus our work"

How the Dutch Red Cross uses OGSM to make the right strategic choices​

The Dutch YouTube-channel Groei Gesprekken (Growth Talks) recently posted a discussion with Marc van Eck, CEO at New Growth Strategies and author of the book ‘The 1-page Business Plan’, and Marquérite Patiwael, head of Market Development and Fundraising of The Netherlands Red Cross. This charity organisation has chosen to use OGSM as a method to make the right strategic decisions – both for their fundraising and their aid delivery efforts. .

Words like ‘clear, ‘concrete, ‘focus and ‘setting the direction’ form a recurring refrain in Van Eck’s dialogue with Patiwael. The message is clear from the outset: OGSM plays an important role in helping The Netherlands Red Cross set the right course. Patiwael explains that The Netherlands Red Cross is not an ‘ordinary’ organisation. Both the people employed there and the many volunteers that support it are driven by a strong intrinsic motivation and a heartfelt belief in their work. That means the organisation has the power to move mountains, but also that there can be a tendency to offer a helping hand wherever human suffering comes into view. “OGSM brings a discipline in our process: what do we focus on, what do we leave to others? Who are we going to help in a world where suffering is so ubiquitous? What is our ‘core business’, where can we claim our relevance? We can’t possibly help everyone, so we need to make choices. OGSM helps us keep our eye on the ball. We’re here for people in need, for people in emergency situations, who can’t meet their basic necessities. So we concentrate on the most vulnerable,” Patiwael said.

The Netherlands Red Cross is organised in clusters, and each cluster now has its own OGSM. While the cluster of national and international Aid Delivery uses OGSM to determine where to focus its relief funds, Patiawel uses OGSM in her Market Development and Fundraising cluster to achieve her sponsor recruitment goals. The Communication cluster and HR cluster also use the framework. “All those OGSM plans are interconnected, so we are well-aligned and find the right synergies. Within each cluster, there are multiple teams, who each use OGSM to achieve goals. It’s been really helpful for people to work in this coordinated way,” Patiwael said.


A more process-driven organisation

According to Patiwael, the use of OGSM has made The Netherlands Red Cross a stronger and more professional organisation: “Using OGSM has made us much more process-driven, without hurting the personal drive of our people and volunteers.” Although the organisation initially found it ‘tricky’ to adopt OGSM as a method, its teams have increasingly caught on. More and more often, the relevant OGSM is ‘taken out of the drawer’ whenever a choice needs to be made. “OGSM has helped us tremendously to structure and focus our work,” Patiwael said. “In addition, it’s also become a very important instrument for us to monitor our growth and make our strategy into something we all share, something we all stand behind and contribute to.”