Cascading an OGSM

Cascading an OGSM: what does that mean?
What does cascading an OGSM look like? 
What are the ways to cascade an OGSM?

Cascading an OGSM: what does that mean?

OGSM is a systematic and disciplined but simple method for organizations to build a strategic plan, communicate it, and execute it. The power of the model lies in its simplicity, ensuring a tight unity of vision, goals, strategies and KPIs. When done correctly, OGSM empowers your organisation with a clear and coherent focus on a limited number of goals and projects.

Formulating and realising the strategy is not just a job for the upper management, however. For bigger organisations, the execution of an OGSM strategy often becomes more effective when it is ‘translated’ (or split up) into different regional divisions, dedicated departments, or product teams. That process of translating and subdividing across multiple levels is called cascading. 

What does cascading an OGSM look like? 

In essence, cascading means little more than splitting up your main Objective into a number of smaller sub-goals that, if realized, together add up to the Objective. These sub-goals then operate as the Objectives of one or more underlying OGSMs.

The Strategies of the higher-level OGSM are then ‘translated’ to the relevant level of the sub-OGSM. For example, a Customer strategy on the organisational level can be concretised into a marketing strategy for the marketing department. In short: by cascading, you can make your Goals and Strategies more concrete and manageable at different levels of your organisation. Individual departments, teams and employees can work on lower-level objectives and strategies that are relevant for them, without losing sight of the higher-level strategic objective.

What are the ways to cascade an OGSM?

There are several ways to cascade an OGSM. Broadly, you can distinguish two types: 

Vertical cascading

When you subdivide your strategic objective over sub-goals by country, region, department or team, we call this ‘vertical’ cascading. A subdivision over the different phases of a Customer Journey is another example of vertical cascading.

OGSM cascaderen
OGSM cascaderen
OGSM cascaderen

Horizontal cascading

You can also cascade ‘horizontally’, which means subdividing a plan over multiple calendar or financial years. For example, you may have a strategic business plan for 5 years, subdivided into 5 OGSM plans with the goals and strategies for each individual year. 

OGSM cascaderen

Cascading by scenario

Finally, you can also ‘cascade’ or develop OGSMs by scenario. This isn’t technically a cascading or subdivision of your plan. But it means developing different strategic plans for multiple scenarios, for example for different rates of business growth. The advantage of doing this is that you’ll have an idea of how to handle each scenario, so that you can quickly adjust course when the conditions change.

What is the best way to cascade an OGSM strategic plan?

It’s important to know that there is not one ideal way to cascade an OGSM. However, we don’t recommend cascading purely across departments, since this can easily result in silo mentality: it is better to cascade across multiple process chains. For a company organized by regions, a regional cascading would be the most obvious solution. But you could also opt for a cascading based on product groups, for example.

One thing that all forms of cascading have in common is that they are best managed through OGSM Software. After all, you’ll end up with large amounts of data for multiple strategic plans, which have to be monitored consistently and ‘added up’ to understand their contribution to the higher-level strategic objective. Using OGSM Software makes this much easier and also lets you generate reports on multiple levels with a couple of mouse clicks. 

Are there any useful tools that help when cascading an OGSM strategic plan? 

OGSM is originally a Japanese management approach, based on a combination of Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives philosophy and the Plan-Do-Check-Act method of William Edwards Deming. Drucker is also the inventor of the ‘goal tree’ – a tree structure of goals that are split into smaller sub-goals, each with its individual KPI’s.

Typically, goal trees are worked out from high-level to detailed, and from ‘hard’ to ‘soft’ KPIs. In the ‘trunk’ of the tree, we find the so-called Lagging indicators (outcomes such as profit, revenue, and customer or employee satisfaction). Those are then subdivided into goals related to efforts (the Leading indicators).  A goal tree can be very helpful when developing an OGSM cascading.

Read more about OGSM methodology here