A strategic planning initiative can easily degenerate into a debate over process and definitions. For example, one person may insist that the goals must be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Another may argue that the team needs to have targets that are BHAG – big, hairy, audacious goals. And while one group asserts that the mission should be inspirational, others disagree and believe the vision is inspirational, but the mission must state who we are. And still others are adamant that the process should be a series of meetings over six-to-nine months, others want to get the plan complete in a few weeks.

The Key Question

When developing your strategic plan, would it be helpful if there was a method to get your entire team in agreement on the planning process and definitions from the beginning?

With the Drivers Model process, the entire planning team is brought together for a management briefing prior to initiating the strategy process. Through our work with hundreds of organizations on strategic planning, we have designed and structured the briefing to encourage full consensus on the strategy process. Below is a sample agenda for the briefing.

Management Briefing Agenda

  1. Getting Started
  2. The Most Critical Issues to Address in Planning
  3. A Strategy Process – The Drivers Model
  4. Modifying the Process to Address Our Issues
  5. Outlining the Situation Assessment
  6. Next Steps

Immediately following the “Getting Started” segment, the planning team identifies the critical issues that must be addressed by the plan. By identifying the critical issues up front, the planning team understands that the strategic planning model must be designed around addressing these issues.

Yet, knowing the issues to be addressed is a long way from having agreement on the strategy process and definitions. Therefore, we step through the Drivers Model and a sample strategic plan so that the entire team understands the simple-but-rigorous model. During the highly interactive walk-through, the team understands and experiences the definitions and the value-added features of the model:

  • Vision (prefered picture of the future) versus mission (what we do, for whom we do it, the benefit)
  • Goals (broad aims) versus objectives (measurable results)
  • Measuring results versus activity
  • Using critical success factor and barrier analysis to generate focused strategies versus simple brainstorming
  • The importance of accurately assessing the current environment
  • The key to monitoring progress in plan execution to ensure results

Drivers Model Terms and Definitions

VisionA picture of the “preferred future”; a statement that describes how the future will look if the organization achieves its ultimate aims. “The vehicles of choice for a value-focused world”
MissionA statement of the overall purpose of an organization. Describes what you do, for whom you do it and the benefit. “Our mission is to provide the consumer with high quality, price competitive automobiles to meet their personal, business and recreational needs.”
Guiding PrinciplesGeneral guidelines which set the foundation for how an organization will operate. “Responsiveness to consumer needs will be a first priority in our operations. Therefore we will…”
GoalsBroad, long-term aims that define accomplishment of the mission. “Profitability – Maximize net income by increasing revenues and controlling costs.”
ObjectivesSpecific, quantifiable, realistic targets that measure the accomplishment of a goal over a specified period of time. “Increase revenues by 12% in 1993. Limit increases in overhead costs to 2% in 1993. Achieve a 5% reduction in management staff through increased automation.”
Critical Success FactorsMajor items or issues that must “go right” to achieve one or more objectives. “Body styles that are pleasing to the public. Effective dealer network. Successful office automation project.”
BarriersExisting or potential challenges that hinder the achievement of one or more objectives. “Inefficient northeast plant. Price competition from Japan manufacturers. Public perception of poor quality by USA.”
StrategiesBroad activities required to achieve an objective, control a critical success factor, or overcome a barrier. “Establish partnership with Japanese manufacturer to revamp the northeast plant. Implement program to widely promote our success as a quality producer.”
ActionsSpecific steps to be taken, by whom and by when, to implement a strategy. “Initiate discussions with PR firm on Quality Promotion BPC 2/1 Develop first draft of Promotion AKO 3/15 Review Promotion internally and update BPC 4/1 “

But seeing a model doesn’t necessarily result in buy-in. Accordingly, after the review of the model, we ask the participants to determine where in the model each of the critical issues identified earlier would be addressed. The model and definitions are then modified as necessary to ensure all critical issues are included in the planning effort.

This process of linking issues to the model and modifying the model as needed helps gain the planning team’s buy-in that the strategic planning process is designed to meet their needs!

The Solution

Through the management briefing component of our strategy approach, your team gains agreement on definitions and the strategy process, using the Drivers Model as a starting point.