Strategy

How to plan and share your startup's strategy with I Am Why

A tool to keep your team focused and on track
Francesco | 19.01.18

As the founder of a startup, you know how difficult it can be to move your business forward. And one of the biggest mistakes startups make is burying their strategy. So when their team needs to make a decision, their strategy is not available. Which is where I Am Why comes in.

Startups and strategy

Starting a new business is full of enthusiasm. But it’s also full of uncertainty. Are we making the right steps to help our business grow? Are we focusing on what’s really important, or are we wasting time on trivial tasks? Are we on the right track or is it time to pivot?

Make a strategic plan and then focus all your efforts in executing it. That’s the expert advice. But it is easier said than done, as we learned the hard way.

There are many tools that can support you in planning (templates and frameworks) and in executing (task and project management apps). But what about everything? How about the entire strategy of the company, every planning session?

We found that there was no single tool that could accomplish this. Nothing that led and guided you through the whole process.

And that is why we developed I Am Why: a single place for planning, visualising and tracking all you need to do to make your business shine.

I Am Why: the strategic planning tool for startups and small teams

I Am Why is a lightweight tool for strategic planning developed especially for startups and small teams. Think of it as Google Calendar meets Trello.

The idea behind I Am Why is simple: you should be able to manage your whole strategy on a single screen, from goal setting to weekly tasks. In the calendar-style view you can write down your business high-level objectives for the next few months, along with all the activities you need to perform to execute your strategy. From strategic planning to execution and progress tracking: everything you need to move your business forward with confidence in a single tool.

I Am Why hierarchy

The benefits of visual strategic planning

The right recipe for a successful startup is a good mix of strategy and execution, says serial entrepreneur George Deeb.

Having a great idea and some skilled teammates is not enough. You need a well-articulated strategic plan to make your idea real, and the determination and discipline to execute it.

See the big picture and bring your team on board

Strategy is crucial for your business to succeed so don’t keep it under the carpet, hidden away in some obscure document or folder. Research says it loud and clear: the success rate of a strategy drops by around 50% when it’s badly communicated to your team members.

I Am Why makes things clear for you and your team: your whole plan, from high-level goals to weekly tasks, is always right in front of you. A clear way to communicate and share your strategy is fundamental for keeping your teammates aligned and productive.

Always work on what’s most important

Tell your team where you want to go and why you need to get there. In I Am Why you set your objectives, define the quantitative key results, and write also why they’re important. This way, priorities will always be clear: you and your team will always know what’s important and why it’s important. No more working at cross purposes or wasting time on trivial tasks.

Always know if it’s time to change your strategy

Changing direction is part of the startup life. The important thing, is to change at the right moment: not too late, nor too soon (do you have data or it’s just your hunch?). With clear goals and deadlines, I Am Why makes it easy to track your progress and to check if you’re going in the right direction or it’s time to pivot.

How to use I Am Why in 5 steps

Here we show you how you can jumpstart and use I Am Why for:

  • Creating and visualising your strategic plan with your team;
  • Focusing on what’s most important to do now;
  • Tracking progress and assess how well things are going.

Step 1. The whole strategy view

Go to the https://imy.io/ page, click first on the ‘SIGN ME UP or LOGIN’ link on the top-right corner of the screen and use your Google account to log in. You'll be asked to insert your company's name and invite any teammates, if you would like to.

The initial view is similar to a calendar where you can see what’s happening in your company for the next six weeks. Your plan for moving forward your business is hierarchically organised in three horizontal layers. Going from the top to the bottom increases the granularity level:

  1. The top one (High-Level Goal) contains your current big objective(s);
  2. The second (Main Activities) has the different activities you need to perform, in order to reach the main goal(s);
  3. In the last one (Weekly Objectives) you can list all the priority tasks for each week.

Initial view

Step 2. Create your strategic plan

When you login into I Am Why for the first time, you’ll notice that it has already been populated with a basic template for the problem solution fit phase of the Lean Startup methodology. If you don’t need it, just delete each bar (click on the triple bar button and select the ‘Delete’ option), or you can also edit the bars to suit your plan (see below).

To create a bar, just click on an empty space and give a name to it. Bars’ length represents their duration in weeks, so if you want to change it just click on a border and resize the length.

We recommend to start writing down your plan by creating the High-Level Goals for the next few months, and then break them down into Main Activities. There’s no need to create all the Weekly Objectives right now, you’ll have time to add more detailed ones in due time.

Your new plan

Step 3. Adding why, key results and milestones

Hey, your strategic plan is not just a Gantt chart, there is more information to be added! So start from a High-Level Goal and click on the bar, this will expand it.

First, there’s the question - Why is it important? Even if this seems obvious, it's useful to write it, so that all your team is on the same page. And it helps also when a few weeks down the line you ask yourself 'Why did I decide to follow this route rather than another one?’

Then, it’s time to try to translate your abstract goal into measurable objectives. Write down what success looks like, what partial success looks like, and what failure would be. This helps to hold yourself accountable, celebrate the successes, and discover showstoppers early!

In the final section you can add the milestones, that are markers on the road that allow you to have an idea of how much progress you are making towards the goal.

Goals

Step 4. Decide what to do now

Once you have set up the High-Level Goals and the Main Activities, decide what’s important to do during this week that is straightforward: the priority for this week will be to do everything that’s needed to complete the Main Activities above. Of course there will be many other small or big tasks, but what’s really important for your business is what will get you to reach those big objectives you planned.

weekly tasks

Step 5. Track progress

At the beginning of a new week, take some time to check your progress: have you achieved all the milestones expected for the previous week? How well are you proceeding with the Main Activities? So, open last week’s Weekly Objectives bar and Main Activities bars, and check if you’ve achieved all the expected milestones and key results. This way it will be easy to understand if you are on the right track, or it may be time to adjust your strategy.

Pro tip: Open both last and this week Weekly Objectives bars together, so you can easily add to the current list of tasks what was left behind in the last week.

track and plan

Jump on board!

Ready to make your dreams a reality? Sign up for free to I Am Why, the right tool for visualise your strategy and what’s most critical for the growth of your startup: See the big picture and bring your team on board, it’s time to take on the world!

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