What Strategic Planning Approach is best?

A few years ago I served with several other strategy experts on the Association for Strategic Planning’s certification task force, which developed the first-ever program for certifying strategic planners. I was tasked with identifying the best strategic planning approach, along with Howard Rohm, president of the Balanced Scorecard Institute.

There are many different approaches offered by consultants, authors, and strategists. Some of them work well, others don’t. So how do you decide what is best? After considerable research and discussion, we came up with the definitive answer.

But let’s start with a different question: what’s the best place to go out for dinner with three friends? Unless there is a unanimous immediate answer, you’ll have to explore.

What do we all like – (and don’t like). (We’ll eat everything but super-spicy). Do we want quiet and low-key, loud and raucous, or somewhere in between? (Quiet enough for conversation). Upscale or downscale? (Somewhere in between). How far are we willing to drive? (15 miles) What’s our budget? (Under $40 apiece).

Answering questions like this yields selection criteria to narrow your long list of possibilities into a manageable number. So rather than arguing over what is the best – which is totally subjective and impossible to prove in any event – use your personal preference to select from among the options which can get the job done.

(We ended up at the Cheesecake Factory.  Their menu offers variety and I love to support places that still manufacture in America.)

Back to the ASP professional certification program. It turns out that the answer to the which-is-best strategic planning system question is the same as the best restaurant question: there is none, and it all depends.

With that perspective, we identified characteristics that any effective planning and management system should have.  Here they are.

  • based on systems-thinking principles
  • appropriate to the enterprise level of interest and to your position/ function
  • cascades and links up, down and across the organization
  • fits a larger cycle of thinking, planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • includes meaningful measures (a strategic dashboard)
  • actionable – can drive projects and strategic initiatives from the strategic plan
  • easy to learn and use
  • makes common sense.

As long as what you choose fits these criteria, you should be in good shape.

My own favorite methodology is the Logical Framework Approach, which my clients have proven adds value in hundreds of diverse situations to smoothly bridge the gap between strategic goals and executable projects. Go here to learn more about this approach. bit.ly/Terry-177

Go here for information on ASP’s strategic planning certification program, go to www.strategyassociation.org.


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