Case Study: jumpAGrade
Strategic Insights: Mastering the Art of Strategy
Developing a strategy is just the first step; effective implementation is crucial. Many strategies fail due to poor identification, execution or a lack of alignment with the organization’s capabilities. JumpAgrade overcame these challenges with the effective deployment using the Four Dimensions of Excellence.
Introduction to JumpAGrade
jumpAgrade is an online teaching platform that provides exam-focused online courses delivered by experienced teachers and State Examiners.
jumpAgrade were named Social Entrepreneur Ireland Award winners for 2019 & more recently as one of their ‘Scale Partners’ until 2022. jumpAgrade have also been awarded Rethink Ireland Social Enterprise Development Fund and Education Innovation Fund award winners.
jumpAgrade approached CLS in late 2021 to assist with the optimisation of the application of the 4DX model to their organisation. Co-Founder and CEO Pádraic Hogan from jumpAgrade had received a recommendation from a previous client where CLS had transformed their strategy execution process with the application of the 4 Disciplines of Execution® (4DX – outlined later in the case study).
When CLS began working with jumpAgrade, they understood there was a better way for students to get help preparing for exams, than ‘grinds’. However, the inequity that’s caused by grinds was also a problem too big to ignore.
With 50% of all Leaving Cert students getting grinds & the majority of those coming from more affluent backgrounds, the gap is only widening. The knock-on effect can be seen in progression rates to third-level; 90-100% of students from Dublin 2, 4 & 7 progress to college, whereas the progression rate in Dublin 17 is just 15%. jumpAgrade’s Mission is to “help every student to achieve their full potential by providing students with academic and wellbeing support via our online platform.”
Strategy Opportunity Statement
The first step for CLS was to understand the current process of managing tactical activity and strategic projects. From this analysis, there was a weekly meeting with a digital scrum board which was working well for the team members.
The business leadership team also had a clear vision for the future of the business and had started to apply a self-taught approach using the 4 Disciplines of Execution®. With the team fully on board with the transformation, CLS were delighted to support the next phase of their strategic journey.
The objective of the scope of work was to optimise their strategy deployment process and differentiate between the management of tactical activities and strategy projects.
The next step was to create a bespoke solution to meet jumpAgrade requirements, with the following areas of focus for this scope of work:
Focus Area 1: To provide training and mentoring of the strategic project management process.
Focus Area 2: To provide training and mentoring for tactical activity that delivers the annual goals and objectives.
Mastering Strategy Deployment
Within this scope of work, CLS provided training on 4DX. This approach was developed by Franklin Covey with a focus to engage the entire workplace to deliver the business objectives, while managing the day-to-day whirl wind that can sometimes distract us from the business goals.
Adopting the process to systematically align the entire organisation to the Strategic Objectives.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important. This is the discipline of focus.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures. This is the discipline of leverage.
Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard. This is the discipline of engagement.
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability.
As part of this scope of work, jumpAgrade had identified their strategic objectives.
To test the appropriateness of the objectives identified, the leadership completed a workshop to test if these were both specific and measurable, yet inspiring and memorable. From this activity, the leadership team refined the objectives.
Once the wildly important goals or strategic goals are identified, the next phase is to identify the annual goals. For each goal, leading indicators were identified, and this was then input into a scorecard.
For strategic projects, the senior and operational leaders completed project management training with a particular focus on the project charter and project update template. For each strategic project identified, a Sponsor and Leader were identified.
A typical charter includes:
- The opportunity statement
- The metrics and deliverables
- The team
- Key milestones
- What is in and out of scope
What was of value in particular was the differentiation between a project sponsor and leader.
Once the roles and responsibilities were identified, the charters were completed and this then clarified the scope of work required to enable the leader to drive the projects forward.
On a monthly basis, each project leader then provided an update to each project status and for any support required, this was then identified on a monthly cadence.
Deliver Results through a Cadence of Accountability
To deliver the tactical objectives of the business, a Tier 1 process was developed. The leadership team completed training on the 4DX model complete with SCRUM board. On a weekly basis, the commitments were made for the week ahead to complete to deliver the tactical goals of the business.
Each business process had its own scorecard and the target was agreed by the process team to deliver the scorecard objective. On a daily basis, the performance of each commitment was reviewed and if there was any support required, this could then be managed and overcome.
The CLS approach:
For this scope of work, the main areas of support provided to jumpAgrade included:
- Completion of a gap analysis to develop a programme bespoke to support jumpAgrade.
- Delivered training in areas including the 4DX, strategic project management, balanced scorecards, project charters and update documentation.
- Mentored to refinement of Strategic objectives.
- Mentored the project management process.
- Mentored the refinement of the daily accountability process.
- Provided access to Skillnet funding to support the cost of service provided.
In summary, the primary benefits identified by jumpAgrade include:
- A clear understanding between the management of strategic projects and tactical processes to deliver a business overall objectives.
- Optimised the use of people’s time through the refinement of the business processes.
- Simplified the process to deliver strategic goals and objectives.
- Give time back to the people working in the business to focus on what matters to the future of the business.
Other leadership processes supported by CLS included problem and opportunity statements, Lean leadership, business impact, portfolio planning, project management and portfolio management and Leadership capabilities and training programmes.
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