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Strategic SnapShots©: What REALLY Matters? Part 4: Gap Analysis

To recap:

Part 1 :  We formulate the Seven Critical Factors for the Focus Question selected.
Part 2 :  We weights the seven factors in terms of relative importance, discuss the weights and highlight differences of opinion.
Part 3: We score the factors in terms of historic, current, forecast and objective and determine the Strategic Trajectory then determine the weighted gap by applying the weights to the scores – see example below.

Weighted Scores with Critical Gaps

Part 4 – The Gap Analysis

Starting with the largest gap, the gaps are then analyzed to determine how they will be closed.  In practice one may only analyze the two or three largest gaps although it will be found that it does not take long to analyze the remaining gaps as well once the largest gaps have been analyzed.

The gap analysis takes place as set out in the diagram below:

Gap Analysis chart showing trajectory and plan actions to close gaps

The dashed red line at the bottom of the diagram represents the forecast trajectory. The light green dashed line at the top represents the objective trajectory.  The gap between the forecast and objective positions at the end of the planning period on the right represents the extent of the action required to close the gap.

The curved line from the point of intersection on the left represents the planned trajectory of change which is achieved by applying forces (that is projects and plan actions) represented by the vertical blue arrows, to change the trajectory of the organization.

These are arrived at as follows for each of the seven gaps indicated in the upper diagram:

  1. Each delegate lists no more than seven projects and plan actions to close each gap.
  2. As in the SnapShot© process individual delegates projects are captured separately and they are then synthesized into no more than seven holistic projects.
  3. For each of these projects planning takes place in terms of:
  • What is the relative importance of each project to closing the gap – leads to overall plan prioritization.
  • Score, how well are we doing this already – points towards which projects are most urgent.
  • Accountability – who will lead each project.
  • Timeline – very simple high level timeline, I use an “x” in the spreadsheet for each month – goal is to develop a high level view of sequencing.
  • People required to execute the project starting with Executive Management down to external Consultants and Contractors.
  • Financial resources – both Capital and Operating Costs.

All of this takes place at a high level and proceeds very quickly, the goal is to quickly evaluate the ball park activities and resources required to achieve the desired outcome.  This plan is then consolidated and evaluated holistically in the Strategic Action planning process.

4. In the consolidated plan it is generally found that availability of top management is a critical constraint on the plan – a one hour presentation to an Executive Committee of eight people consumes one person day of the EXCO. This adds up rapidly if the projects truly ARE strategic.

This will point to a need for stretching the time line and/or improving executive delegation of non-essential operational tasks that do not belong at Exco level and/or delegation of authority to team leaders or middle-management to deputize for the executive.


Correctly facilitated this process can run very quickly and gives a quick assessment of what actions are required.

As with the previous articles, it is entirely practical for readers to do this process with their own spreadsheets although our Strategic Planning Suite, developed and refined over many years of practical application is affordably priced.

In my next article …

We will look at the Strategic Map – how to fit multiple SnapShots© together to form a comprehensive picture of the entire strategic and competitive environment. Thereafter we will look at the Strategic Action Plan and then at Key Performance Indicators.  In further articles we will look at the Strategic Matrix and using SnapShots for scenario decision making.  See my free webinar below for a detailed discussion of the entire process with examples.

Experience my Strategic SnapShot© workshop for yourself

If you would like to experience my process, I am offering High-Impact-Low-Cost StratSnap© workshops focused on making decisions today. These workshops draw on my military experience in the Quick Attack where a unit has only a few hours to assess available intelligence before advancing on a target, and where bad decisions get people killed. If you and your team have a key decision to make, see our workshop options and pricing here.
Our “High-Impact-Low-Cost” StratSnap© workshops take 4 to 5 hours for mid-size business with up to 7 delegates. In just a morning with your team, analyze an aspect of your business that is keeping you awake at night. Surface differences of opinion without conflict. End the Zoom call with consensus on where to focus your efforts. Click here for more information and a time-limited offer.