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Quantive 2023 Predictions: Tackle 2023 Enterprise Trends With the Right Strategic Framework


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

Tackle 2023 Enterprise Trends With the Right Strategic Framework

By Jenny Herald, VP of product evangelism, Quantive

Geopolitical conflicts, skyrocketing inflation, and the aftershocks of COVID-19 put companies through the wringer in 2022. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any reprieve coming in 2023. New trends are emerging that will push organizations to rethink their strategic objectives and the tactics they use to achieve them.

Calls from policymakers, investors, and consumers for corporate sustainability are growing louder, and companies face high expectations to make stronger commitments - and more meaningful progress - toward tackling climate change. Meanwhile, business investment in automation is rapidly increasing, and the pace of adoption will continue to rise in 2023. Organizations that fail to implement this technology face a steep competitive disadvantage. And then there's the impending recession that businesses - and employees - will need to navigate, too.

One factor that will separate the organizations that thrive from those that struggle in 2023 will be the preparations they make for the road ahead. Companies need to create strategic plans that keep them on track to achieve their objectives in the face of technological shifts, uncertain economic conditions, and other disruptions to business activities.

But not all strategic plans are created equal. A strategic plan that employs the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) goal-setting framework can enable resilient businesses to manage whatever 2023 has in store.

Navigating 2023 trends with the OKR framework

The rapid pace of change doesn't need to hinder progress. The key is to develop adaptable strategies that create organization-wide alignment on bold, but attainable business objectives.

OKRs offer the necessary structure and adaptability for strategic plans. The framework takes a clear objective and assigns 3-5 measurable key results to track progress toward goals - regardless of whether those goals exist at the team, departmental, or organizational level. At the same time, the framework's simplicity allows decision-makers to rework strategies and approaches if their business's priorities or capabilities change.

Here are three trends that will change the way businesses operate in 2023 - and how companies can create strategies to thrive amid the uncertainty and unpredictability of the next 12 months:

1.   Corporate environmentalism will move from niche to mainstream. Pressure is mounting from all directions for the private sector to more fully commit to sustainability work. Consumers want their goods to come from eco-friendly companies, employees want to work for environmentally conscious employers, and policymakers are starting to enact laws mandating sustainable practices. For example, the European Parliament and Council passed a rule requiring vehicle manufacturers to exclusively produce zero-emission cars and vans by 2035. 

Sustainability targets like the ones European automotive brands face can seem daunting without the right plan in place. But by employing a goal-setting framework like the OKR method, business leaders can create strategies with clear direction and achievable outcomes that drive meaningful progress.

Too often, sustainability initiatives fail to achieve their aims due to a lack of planning and focus on concrete goals. The OKR framework forces companies to define specific objectives, then clarify what success looks like by setting measurable, attainable targets. For example, with an objective adapted from The Coca-Cola Company like "Focus on a World Without Waste," a key result might be "Use at least 50% recycled material in our packaging by 2030."

2.   Investment in automation will increase. The automation of business processes was already an established trend, but then the pandemic created opportunities for new applications, especially in areas like supply chain and healthcare. As businesses are expected to do more with less, automation investments will likely continue - and not even a recession will be able to hinder the boom. 

Companies across sectors increasingly rely on automation to improve operational efficiency and productivity. About two-thirds (66%) of companies today use automation tools in five or more of their departments, up from 57% in 2020. And the organizations that are leaning heavily on automated processes are reaping the rewards - automation is directly linked to increased business revenue of up to 5-7% and reductions in business process costs of as much as 30%.

There will be an increased push for automation in 2023, but companies need to be strategic about how they secure and utilize this technology. A lot can go wrong when revamping operations through automation - costs can exceed returns on investment, the technology can be implemented poorly, and processes can even become over-automated.

Strategic plans for automation should start with an end goal in mind. And by using the OKR method to guide the development of these end goals, leaders can chart a plan that will directly tie automation technology to their larger objectives.

But companies also need to account for factors like implementation costs, the time required to reach objectives, and any training that will be involved. Decision-makers that invest in automation won't reap its benefits if they don't consider the people it will help, the process interdependencies at play, or the change management implementation needed.

3.   Economic headwinds will shift the power to management. Earlier this year, unemployment in the US and UK fell to their lowest levels in nearly 50 years. And these generationally low unemployment rates were one of the factors that caused a shift in workplace dynamics and gave employees greater agency over their employers. 

A recession in 2023 could change all of that. Cost-conscious employers may look to scale back the employee-centric incentives that became common over the past few years - from free lunch service to healthcare benefits beyond what is required by law.

But companies can't expect to reach strategic objectives if their employees aren't engaged in their work - especially not during a recession. Economics may force companies to cut compensation or other incentives, but business leaders can still foster engagement by providing employees with a greater sense of purpose in their work.

People want to know that their work matters and makes a difference. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General now includes "mattering at work" - the ability to connect individual work with organizational mission - as part of the Five Essentials for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being Framework. Knowing that their role and responsibilities matter makes employees feel more connected to their work, which, in turn, means they're more likely to buy into their company's vision.

Communication and clarity around strategic plans and priorities are crucial in this respect. And the applicability of OKRs on team, departmental, and organizational levels makes it easy to create visibility around the value of everyone's work. Leaders can use all-staff meetings and internal newsletters to give updates on progress toward objectives and key results. That way, employees will see how their efforts to achieve their own objectives and key results drive progress toward high-level objectives.

But communication needs to go both ways. Decision-makers can open up a dialogue with employees through pulse surveys or company Q&As so that any comments, questions, or suggestions around strategic plans or OKRs receive due consideration.

It's all in the plan

No one knows for sure what the future holds. But that doesn't mean businesses can't stay prepared. An OKR-backed strategic plan can help organizations achieve ambitious goals, no matter the challenges they face in the year ahead.

Whether it's adopting the latest technology solutions, lowering their carbon footprint, or maintaining employee engagement during a down economy, leaders can adopt a modern operating model to keep their business on track.




As Vice President of product evangelism, Jenny Herald champions Quantive's vision and how their customers achieve better business outcomes with the company's strategy execution platform based on the OKR methodology.

She's an experienced business leader who has helped accelerate growth for enterprises such as Microsoft and startups like Wunderlist. Jenny also hosts the Dreams with Deadlines podcast where she interviews business leaders on aligning teams and organizations around a common purpose, the ups-and-downs of goal management, strategy execution, and everything in between.

Published Monday, January 16, 2023 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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