OpenView Lenses: The Best Tool for Designing and Executing Comprehensive Strategies

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OpenView Lenses are a framework we developed to help expansion stage technology companies design and execute comprehensive strategies. The framework is an extension of Strategy Maps, which is a great tool for mapping out your comprehensive strategy and ensuring that all aspects of your strategy are aligned.

This post is part of a series that links competitive advantage to developing and executing business growth strategies and company development strategies.

Prior posts in this series include:

How to Make Sure Your Strategy is Complete and Executable

In this post, I offer a brief background on strategy maps and give a basic overview on the OpenView lenses and a starting point from which to consider strategy.

Strategy Maps: A Brief Background

The best tool we discovered for mapping the components of strategy and ensuring they are complete and well aligned are strategy maps. Wikipedia has a good overview of strategy maps and Norton and Kaplan also wrote a very good book on the topic.

At OpenView, we have been working with strategy maps for several years. Over time, we took the great concept and extended the idea into seven unique lenses. At the concept level, the ideas associated with strategy maps are intact, but we found that the seven lens framework makes it much easier to design strategy and then to link the strategy design to operational execution.

In order to design and execute a comprehensive strategy, you need to view the strategy through several different lenses. By using these lenses you can:

  • develop a more robust understanding of the current state of your company in the context of the market(s) in which you participate,
  • create a clearer understanding of what you need to change,
  • better develop the initiatives you need to execute to create the change, and
  • more clearly see the impact your initiatives are making, which helps management to make adjustments to the initiatives to optimize execution.

OpenView Lenses

Lens 1: Market Participants

The market participant lens showcases the view of the market participants. Market participants include your target customer segments, the users and buyers in the segments, the people who influence the users and buyers, the marketing channels that are available to reach the users and buyers, the sales channels the buyers use, and the companies/products that compete for the attention and resources of the other market participants.

Through this lens you can get a much clearer picture of the current state and trends in the market, get a clearer idea of the goals you might want to create, and get a really good set of ideas for initiatives you could execute to realize those goals.

I will develop the market lens in more detail in my next post in this series.

Lens 2: Company touchpoints with the market participants

The touchpoints your company has with market participants are your operating levers for driving change in the market. These touchpoints include your core product user experience plus all the touch points from professional services, customer service, marketing content and contacts, sales content and contacts, finance, business development, and any others.

Your touchpoints with the market drive sales and customer satisfaction, and ultimately create your brand in the market. Want to drive market results? You need to change your touchpoints!

I will go into more detail on this lens in a future post in the series.

Lens 3: Methodologies

Methodologies represent your processes, systems, and information you use to drive your market touchpoints. For example, they may include your product design and development process, the marketing processes you use to drive your marketing messages through your marketing channels, and your sales, customer service, and billing/dunning processes.

Creating and improving methodologies can enable you to develop new and better touch points and also help you to improve the consistency of your market touch points (messages, rhythm, style, etc.) and achieve lower unit costs as well. Ultimately, considering all of your touch points as a bundle can also help you design, create, and execute a branding/positioning strategy into the market that is consistent across all touch points and that targets the right market participants, which should help your brand resonate and develop.

I will go into more detail on this lens in a future post in the series.

Lens 4: People

Ultimately, you and the rest of the people in and around your company create the success of your company. They drive the methodologies and create the touchpoints with your market participants. They also drive the management systems, discussed next, that allow your people to determine and execute the right focal points.

Having people with the right skill sets, motivation, and culture for the company, methodologies and touchpoints you are trying to create is critical to the success of your company, so the people lens is arguably the most critical lens in a company. That said, you need a clear view from the other lenses to help inform the view from this lens.

I will go into more detail on this lens in a future post in the series.

Lens 5: Management Systems

Management systems are the organizational processes and software systems that help you get the right people into the company who will do the right things correctly.

Management systems include your aspirations (mission, vision, values), organizational structure, meeting structure (to create the rhythm of your organization), compensation systems and your software systems (e.g., Intranet, collaboration, project management, team management, recruiting systems) that help everyone focus on the right things with limited friction and distractions

Management systems also include human resource systems that help you recruit, onboard, develop, motivate, advance, and separate people as well as the approaches you use to help get everyone in the organization focused on the right activities to drive toward your goals.

Finally, management systems also include the reports your team use to determine your goals, understand where you are against your goals, and help you to identify the focal points going forward.

I will go into more detail on this lens in a future post in the series.

Lens 6: Economic Model

Your economic model is the model that articulates how the activities (and their costs) and pricing create your cash flow from customers and how the two together drive your current and projected economic results. This is a purely economic view of the world that is de-linked from your GAAP financials so that you can more clearly view the economics of your business.

Typically, the key economic model components include your cost of customer acquisition, your pricing model, your gross profits from customers over time, and your other costs relative to the size of your business. More advanced economic models might break down separate economic models by customer segment and/or dig deeper into how certain activities (costs) drive the economic results of your business. The better you understand your economic model, the better you can determine what other lenses on which you might focus to improve your economic model performance.

I will go into more detail on this lens in a future post in the series.

Lens 7: GAAP Financials

Your GAAP financials are essentially what the accountants say they are. While it is easier to manage your company to an economic model performance, ultimately all larger companies are evaluated from a GAAP financial perspective and, therefore, it is important to understand the view through this lens.

I will go into more detail on this lens in a future post in the series.

The Best Tool for Designing and Executing Comprehensive Strategies

This post offered a general overview of the OpenView Lenses, which is the best tool we know for designing and executing comprehensive strategies. I find that most managers consider a subset of the lenses when we discuss strategy and/or operational execution, and my belief is that considering all of the lenses, at least briefly, for any strategy, will help management to ensure their strategy is complete, executable, and stands the best chance for success.

In the next few posts in this series, I will go into more detail on each of the OpenView Lenses starting with Lens 1, Market Participants. In later posts, I will offer a few examples of mapping different strategies. In future posts, I will discuss some pragmatic approaches to using strategy maps as a management team.

What do you think? Can you see how viewing your strategy through each of these lenses can help you both improve it and create and execute initiatives to help you realize it as well? Please give me your feedback so I can clarify any confusion.