Strategic planning and reviews

Strategic planning is how an organization or group goes about defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. There is no one best strategic planning process that can be used the same way all the time in every organizational setting. Each organization or group should customize the best approach to suit the culture of its members, the current situation in and around the work area to be considered, and the purpose of its planning.

Strategic Business Planning Methodology
This slideshare presentation by Operational Excellence Consulting provides a framework for conducting a strategic business planning study and mapping out an actionable plan. It sets out four key phases of work: i) strategic review; ii) visioning; iii) strategy development; and iv) implementation formulation.

Strategic Analysis Tools
This guide by the The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)  provides an overview of some of the more commonly used strategic analysis tools. These include: SWOT analysis; PEST analysis; Porter’s five forces; Four corner’s analysis; Value chain anlysis; Early warning systems; War gaming; and case studies.

Specific strategy tools and frameworks

The TOWS Matrix: Putting a SWOT Analysis into Action
Many organizations utilize a SWOT analysis to identify organizational strengths and weaknesses. SWOT analyses can be interesting, but what should you do with the resulting information? This is where the TOWS matrix becomes a useful tool. This guidance page from VolunteerHub shows how the TOWS matrix provides a simple but effective way to brainstorm specific strategies to address the results of your initial SWOT investigation. Another useful page is provided by MindTools – Using the TOWS Matrix: Developing Strategic Options From an External-Internal Analysis.

Evaluating external factors
STEEP is an acronym for: Social, Technological, Economical, Environmental and Political. The STEEP structure is used for scanning developments in the external (contextual) macro environment. Other known acronyms derived from STEEP are: PEST, PESTLE, PESTEL, STEP, STEPJE, STEEPLED and LEPEST. The STEEP acronym is well known and used all over the world as a basis for external analysis.

For further information visit the related LfS page looking at developing scenarios as a way to help to develop and test strategic choices under a variety of plausible futures. Scenarios also provide additional benefits in promoting high levels of organizational learning and collaboration. Also see the Tools and methodologies for systems thinking page which provides links to guides covering different systems tools including brainstorming, graphs. timelines causal loops, rich pictures and soft systems methodologies.