Strategic SnapShots: What REALLY Matters - Part 6 Strategic Action Plan

Strategic SnapShots©: What REALLY Matters? Part 6: Strategic Action Plan

This is part 6 of the discussion of Strategic SnapShots© – the Strategic Action Plan. Having measured all facets of the organization and developed the projects to close the gaps, what is next?


Part 1: formulates the Seven Critical Factors for the Focus Question selected.

Part 2: weights the seven factors in terms of relative importance, discusses the weights and highlights differences of opinion.

Part 3: scores the factors in terms of historic, current, forecast and objective and determines the Strategic Trajectory and then determines the weighted gaps by applying the weights to the scores.

Part 4: analyzes the gaps and develops a list of projects to close the gaps.

Part 5: develops a “Map” of the Strategic Environment defining how all the different Strategic SnapShots© fit together with all the operational and functional components analyzed in a systematic structured manner with relative weights cascaded over the map.

Part 6: The Strategic Action Plan

Having analyzed all the facets of the organization we now have a large number of projects and plan actions that are grouped according to the individual Strategic SnapShots©, the Critical Factors for each component and the projects to close each gap.  We now need to regroup for execution.

We do this by pulling the headline consolidated schedules from each StratGap© Gap Analysis into a single spreadsheet.  This is done in such a way that the relative weight percentages for the main components of the map, cascade down to the second level of the map and from there onto the individual SnapShot©.  From here they cascade further onto the individual Critical Factors within the SnapShot© and from there onto the individual projects and plan actions.

This gives us the relative importance of every single line item in the entire plan.

We are now in a position to start a holistic planning exercise that will enable us to focus on the 20% of the projects that, overall, will give us 80% of the value delivery.

Grouping of Related Projects

Having copied all the individual lines into one large spreadsheet we now manually move whole rows up and down the spreadsheet to group together related projects.  Thus, for example, we might identify “Appoint public relations consultants” as a requirement for closing four different gaps, each with its individual relative percentage.  We move those all together and add a line to the spreadsheet adding together the data for the four original lines to give a single item with the combined resources, timeline, etc.  This combined item is then arranged further.

We may also group functionally or by geographic region, as appropriate.

Sorting in terms of Relative Importance

Now that we have all related items grouped together, we can manually sort the rows to bring them into descending order according to the combined percentage relative importance.  This will give us the most important groups of projects at the top of the sheet and the least important at the bottom.  With a bit of extra attention to detail this can be set up to allow electronic sorting.

Traffic Lighting

Finally, colour code the rows with the highest relative importance red, the intermediate importance items yellow and the lower importance items green.  Leave the really low importance items as white, they will likely be ignored, at least for the first year or two.

Reevaluate Timelines, Deadlines and Resource Requirements

With the structured list that now exists look again at the timelines and adjust based on required resources to arrive at a realistic overall plan.  Typically, you will take two or three iterations before you have a realistic plan in terms of critical resource constraints such as availability of executive and senior management.  See example below:

StratAction image of consolidated action plan

Create the Strategic Program and Begin Plan Execution

Finally recreate this plan in your Project Management tool of choice such as Microsoft Project, Primavera, JIRA, etc.  If you are part of a moderately large organization, I would recommend that you appoint a professionally qualified project manager to manage the execution of the program and in a large organization I would suggest that, if you have a Program Management Office (PMO) you hand the plan over to them at this point.  If you do not have a PMO it might be a good time to establish one.  Executive custody is vital.


The above process is the culmination of a systematic engineered strategic plan development process that is highly inclusive, empowers the personnel in the organization, is owned by the personnel in the organization and is highly practical and capable of effective implementation.  It is also free of mumbo-jumbo and abstract concepts and jargon.  This is your plan!  Provided the planning team have been practical and realistic the plan will be relatively easy to execute.

This approach can be applied by any organization now matter how small or how large.

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

We offer a comprehensive suite of training, facilitation and advisory services relating to the application of these tools and methods.

In my next article …

We will look at developing Strategic Key Performance Indicators. We will use the Strategic SnapShot© outputs as an input to a simple process in which we take the dictum “tell me how you will measure me, and I will tell you how I will behave” and turn it around to “tell me how you want me to behave (the Strategic Plan) and I will tell you how to measure me!”  This enables us to put in place measures that the personnel are on board with, and which direct the organization in the chosen direction as set out in the plan.

How the workshops workExperience my Strategy workshop for yourself

If you would like to experience my process, I am offering High-Impact-Low-Cost Strategy Workshops to help you develop long or short-range plans. These workshops draw on my military experience in the Quick Attack where a Commander has only a few hours to assess available intelligence before advancing on a target, and where bad decisions get people killed.

These High-Impact-Low-Cost workshops take 4 to 5 hours for a mid-size business with up to 7 delegates. In just a morning with your team, we help you to crystalize your priorities and develop detailed action plans that deliver outstanding results.

At the end of the call, you get the workshop outputs followed, within 24 hours, by an executive summary report.  Click here for workshop info and a special offer.