Developing a winning strategy

Most organisations struggle to translate their goals or strategic vision into an implementation plan.

Often, it is derived by getting a group of stakeholders together in a workshop to ‘generate’ a list of initiatives or activities with sticky notes on a wall.

Imagine that you’ve just held one such workshop and generated a long list of initiatives. How do you know that delivering all these initiatives will achieve the strategic goal? How do you know which ones to target first? Do you even know the basis for these initiatives that the team has created?

What’s missing is a strategy roadmap: a bridge (or link) between strategy and implementation plans. It describes the key outcomes and the order in which these should be delivered. 

For years, our consulting business had delivered strategy roadmaps for a variety of organisations, from large multi-nationals to local SMEs. We applied several different methods across these engagements, including industry methods for capability-based planning such as the Open Group TOGAF®.

Learning from our experiences, we began to question the complexity of some of the techniques and methods we applied. Often this was driven by our clients, who either didn’t see value in what we were doing or didn’t understand the approach we were applying. This led us to refine and simplify our strategy road mapping method.

The Six Strategy Roadmap Steps

  1. Lay out your challenges
Ask yourself: Why does the strategic vision or goals exist?
To answer this, you need to fully define the challenges to be solved by your strategic vision or goals. Articulate the problems and opportunities and turn this into your list of challenges.
  1. Set your objectives
Ask yourself: What must you achieve to address these challenges?
Each challenge you’ve defined must be addressed by a particular objective. When you create a list of objectives, each one must clearly link back to the corresponding challenge.
  1. Assess your capabilities
Ask yourself: What capabilities do you need to invest in to meet the objectives?
Imagine that capabilities are the building blocks of your organisation and that each of these building blocks describes the people, processes, and physical aspects.
For each objective, you should now list the building blocks that will deliver to it. For example, capability building blocks for an objective such as ‘increase sales volume by 15%’ could be digital marketing and sales management. Each capability building block listed must be clearly marked with a link to the corresponding objective.
Next, assess each of these required capabilities against their current state and determine how much of a change (if any) is required to the capability in order to meet the linked objectives.
If a change is required, mark each capability to indicate that a change is required. One way to do this is to mark the capabilities as follows:
    • Nothing – No change required
    • Low (L) – Low level of change required
    • Medium (M) – Medium level of change required
    • High (H) – High level of change required
    • New (N) – A new capability.
    For example, ‘(1) Digital marketing (N)’ and ‘(1) Sales management (M)’(where (1) is the link to the objective number).
    Note that it’s likely you’ll end up with listing way too many capabilities, with too many of these requiring a level of change. At this point, start prioritizing: which are the most important capabilities for delivering the objectives? Mark the capabilities as high, medium or low priority. Only focus on the capabilities that have a priority.
    1. Determine your courses of action
    Ask yourself: What do I have to do to bridge the most important capability gaps?
    Once you’ve assessed your capabilities, it’s time to define the actions required to change each one in order to bridge the capability gap. These actions should consider the people changes, process changes and physical changes.
    For example, for a sales management capability, a people course of action could be to appoint a dedicated digital sales person; a process course of action could be to enhance the sales process to cater for digital sales opportunity management; and a physical course of action could be to implement a digital sales management tool.
    1. Formulate your initiatives
    Ask yourself: How can the courses of action be logically grouped for execution?
    When you have defined the courses of action, it’s time to group the related ones into packages of work. We call these ‘initiatives’, but these packages of work could also be projects or programs – it depends on the level of granularity of each Course of Action.
    Again, no doubt you’ll have more initiatives than the organisation can afford to commit to, so another round of prioritization is required. There are many ways to do this, for example prioritization matrices. However, a simple method is to apply a priority order number to each initiative from 1 to n where 1 is the highest priority and n is the total number of initiatives. Then just decide where in the list to draw a line. The top part is what will be implemented.
    1. Generate your roadmap

    Ask yourself: What order should the initiatives be delivered in?
    The final step is to create a roadmap that describes which initiatives are delivered, and in what sequence. To do this, you can map the initiatives onto a grid like this:
    Lastly, pull it all together to tell the strategy roadmap story. You can do this by compiling the content from each of the strategy roadmap steps into a presentation or a document. It’s up to you, but keep these key points in mind:
      • Keep it simple
      • The easier your method is for both the practitioner and those whose input is required, the better.
      • Start with 'why'
      • You must clearly define the problem or opportunity that the strategy roadmap is solving
      • Substantiate the ‘what’
      • A sound strategy roadmap method justifies or validates what changes need to be implemented.
      • Link the ‘why’ and the ‘what’
      • Full traceability from why to what means that it’s easy to update the strategy roadmap when things change.

      Free Roadmap Tool

      Our strategy roadmap service is created around the six-step method outlined above. We have an app that guides you through the steps, it helps you ensure that your decisions and priorities remain aligned with your strategic goals.