The third phase of the ToP Strategic Thinking & Planning framework is creating Strategic Directions. These focus on removing the obstacles or constraints to the Practical Vision, and enhancing or strengthening what is helping. The idea is to build a broad path leading towards breakthrough.
The Strategic Directions point to where the game is to be played, but not necessarily to a specific match. They often take the form of new or refreshed approaches, programs, campaigns or systems.
In business, other aspects include (or could be stated as) critical success factors or key result areas, performance indicators, targets or outcomes. Similarly for project management.
The Strategic Directions:
- Help people see how they relate to the “whole”.
- Outline an implementation methodology or approach that will lead to achieving the objective.
- Include outcome measures – the standard used to measure success in achieving each objective.
- Set priorities to guide resource allocation.
Things to consider:
- Strive to be innovative and creative, not more of the same.
- “Cross-examine” ideas that are vague or too general or simply more
of what is already being done.
- Each objective should have an accompanying outcome measure, and use consistent terminology and precision language.
Workshop Process Steps
- Recap the ST&P flow. Outline the work from the underlying reality. Provide the practical result and the process for session.
- Broad two year actions. Background: 147/805 rules and down board thinking.
- Individually list directions/pathways to overcome obstacles and strengthen assets to allow the vision to be realised.
- Need creative ideas. Some can be bold, some conserving.
- Identify items that have a common strategic intent. It’s about similar outcome, more than similar action.
- Cluster them together. This can be an iterative process.
- Articulate the intended strategic direction:
- What is the arena of focus? Try to use verbs for movement.
- What is the strategic intent of this group of ideas?
- Can use multi-voting to determine priorities.
- For each direction, decide whether it’s catalytic, builds momentum, or is a longer term sustaining area.
- Can group into major areas of effort. Give each major area a short title.
- Closing: What is new or a breakthrough?
So, where have you enabled a group to boldly go to and through its identified windows of opportunity? What went well/not so well? What did you learn for next time?