Do You Need an OGSM? Use Strategic Planning to Boost Your Creative Career, by Linda Fisler

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Brought from Japan to corporate America in the 1950s, the OGSM concept was used initially by car manufacturers. Today large corporations, including Fortune 500 companies, employ this framework to keep their workforces centered on goals and objectives. Ideally this tool can express in a one-page document what a traditional business plan takes 50 pages to explain. The initials in OGSM stand for objective, goals, strategies and measurements. So in what way can this concept be applied to an artist’s business or artwork? Let’s walk through the process of creating a sample OGSM and see.

You can compose an OGSM in any word-processing application, such as Microsoft Word, that allows for inserting a table. Or you can use spreadsheet software, such as Excel, to create an OGSM. If you aren’t computer savvy, simply handwrite the plan on a sheet of paper. Whatever format you choose, you’ll need four columns, labeled “Objective,” “Goals,” “Strategies” and “Measurements” respectively.

Identifying an objective

The first step is to identify an objective. Think of it as your mission—what you’re going to focus on and work to accomplish within a year’s time. The objective should be both broad and detailed enough that it encompasses all facets of your plan. An example might be: “My objective is to become a recognized and respected artist, with an increase in the number of my collectors and followers, which should increase my income.”

You can flesh out this trial objective by specifying how many more collectors and followers you wish to attract and the income increase you hope to gain as a result. The statement would then look something like: “My objective is to become a recognized, respected artist, with an increase of 25 percent in the number of my collectors and followers, which in turn should increase my income by an additional 5 percent.”

Now you’re almost finished with this task, but you need to be certain that this objective addresses every aspect of your business. Surely you don’t want to forget your established collectors and followers, so the final, adjusted statement should include them: “My objective is to become a recognized, respected artist, with an increase in my collectors and followers of 25 percent, which in turn should increase my income by an additional 5 percent, while honoring my current collectors and followers.”

Setting goals

With an objective firmly stated, you can move on to setting goals. This step in the process breaks down the objective into tangible benchmarks you’ll work to achieve over the year. The trial objective states that you want to increase your collectors and followers by 25 percent. One of your goals may be to grow your mailing list by 15 percent. Another goal may be to increase the number of your friends and followers at Twitter and Facebook by 10 percent.

These goals become more tangible if you throw in a little math. So to determine 15 percent of the current number on a mailing list (which we’ll say is 200 people), you simply multiply 200 by .15; this gives you the number of new subscribers you must recruit to your mailing list this year—in this case, 30. According to your objective, you want to grow your income by 5 percent. In a similar way, you can calculate how much income that would be. You might also set goals determining how much of that income will come from new sales as compared to your current collector base.

Developing strategies

With your objective and goals established, it’s time to list your strategies for attaining your goals and objective. Let’s take the goal of increasing your mailing list by 15 percent. One strategy to achieve this could be to place a spot on your website where a visitor can register to be included in your mailing list. Another strategy could be that, at any showing of your artwork, you have a guest book where people sign in with their mailing and e-mail addresses. Yet another strategy could be this: No matter where you are, if someone takes an interest in your artwork, you will ask for his or her mailing information. To further break down your strategy into digestible bits, you may want to set a target of a certain number of new registrations each month. You can assign target amounts per month for each strategy. Then you can proceed to develop strategies for every goal you’ve listed.

Tips for Developing Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measurements for Your Creative Business
Measuring progress

So at this point you have examples of an objective, goals and strategies in place, but you aren’t finished yet. Unless there’s a way to measure how your strategies are working, you won’t have any idea how successful you are at reaching your goals. The measurements for each strategy should vary. Some may be very easy to measure, while others may take some creativity and legwork.

Looking again at the example of increasing your mailing list by 15 percent, the strategies set for that can be measured very easily. There’s a number you’re trying to achieve. In the measurement portion of the OGSM, you would enter that you’re going to track the number of new registrations to your mailing list and check it against your projections of how many new members you need each month. You’ll check this measurement each month to ensure you’re working toward achieving your goal. To evaluate the success of other strategies may require following up with clientele. For example, if your goal is to have very satisfied customers, you may need to do a customer survey to determine how satisfied they really are.

Boosting art skills

In addition to advancing an art business, the OGSM concept can also be an instrument for boosting art skills. For example, a sample of this type of objective could be to focus on improving the quality of your art by developing strong design and harmonious color in your paintings. Your sample goals could be to be accepted into two national shows and to begin your journey to becoming a signature member of an art association. Some strategies could be to attend selected workshops, study various instructional books and DVDs, seek out a mentor and practice by doing a painting a day. Measurements for this objective could be how many of the designated workshops you complete and how many of the books and DVDs you study, whether or not you find a mentor and, finally, how successful you are at completing a painting a day. Your ultimate, longer-term measurement would be whether you get into the national shows and eventually obtain signature status in a society.

Through these examples, I’ve shown how using an OGSM framework can help you hold yourself accountable as an artist and keep you focused and inspired to reach your objective and goals—for both the business and creative aspects of your art. By clearly stating your objective, your goals and the strategies for attaining each goal—and by measuring your progress against each goal—you can maintain a more direct and informed path to a successful and satisfying career.

Linda Fisler is an artist and a business mentor at www.artistmentorsonline.com, where she adapts her 26 years of experience as a manager at Procter & Gamble to help artists develop business skills.
Excerpted from the May 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Used with the kind permission of The Artist’s Magazine, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. Visit www.artistsnetwork.com to subscribe.

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