Most organizations nowadays establish a certain vision & mission that have to be fulfilled through the achievement of several objectives. These objectives will center around a business’s strengths, as well as its defining features when compared to its competitors.
As a result of creating such a performance structure, any organization will have to formulate a strategy map, which can be used to identify links between objectives, cause-and-effect relationships and finding the best way to turn assets into desired outcomes. Moreover, the strategy map usually comes linked with the four major perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard, to ensure its relevance.
As such, a strategy map’s framework will contain the following elements:
Strategic objectives – highlighted in round or oval shapes, coloured according to their thresholds
- Green – this indicates that an objective has either reached its target or has surpassed it
- Yellow – this indicates that an objective is within the acceptable target limits
- Red – this indicates that an objective is below the necessary target
The BSC Perspectives – grouped horizontally with the strategic objectives
Cause and effect relationships – depicted as arrows, these link objectives in both a vertical and horizontal manner
Designing a Strategy Map on your own is usually not an easy feat, especially if you are not familiar with the concept of strategy to begin with. That’s where specialization courses, like a certified strategic planner training program come in handy, as these offer you a direct avenue to unlocking the knowledge you need.
Back in 2010, The Performance Factory issued a paper titled The Strategy Execution Research Report. They had several managers rate their company’s strategy, on a scale from satisfactory – good – acceptable – unsatisfactory. 15% of managers considered their strategies to be completely unsatisfactory.
Moreover, in the same report we found out that 1 in 3 managers receive little to no information about how they should execute a company’s strategy. This leaves many middle and lower tier managers hung out to dry, as they are unaware of how their departments should fit the overall structure.
In addition to this, according to a Harvard Business Review brief, only 15% of the companies they surveyed compared their business results against each unit’s forecast, based on their strategic plans.
This is why these types of business courses can help out clarify aspects that may otherwise entangle a company’s development course. For example, The KPI Institute’s Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional course is built around 5 modules:
- Strategic horizons – learn to develop a clear vision, mission, values and goals for your business
- External and internal analysis – learn to build an algorithm system of early warnings
- Objective- and initiative-setting – learn to establish objectives based on the triangulation method and initiatives based on the aforementioned objectives
- Business plan – learn how to put together the main elements of a business plan and tie to the company’s business strategy
- Strategy communication – learn how to communicate your strategy across the entire company and how to keep up with individual departmental strategies
Coincidentally, this form of a business professional certification represents one surefire way to find out more about the aforementioned strategy map, as it is a core tool of any respected certified strategic planner course. Any training program worth its reputation will usually focus around 4 major learning points:
- Choosing the most optimal template – each organization is different and as a result, each strategy map’s design will end up looking different, however they all follow the same guideline of providing clear connections between objectives and themes that are centered around the same strategic direction
- Going with a top-down approach – while there are many opportunities in which a grassroots approach is highly desirable, when it comes to a strategy map, it usually requires a top-down philosophy, as the leadership’s vision is what will drive the organization forward
- Recognizing the missing link – when a manager first hears about strategy and picks up on some of the basic elements, they sometimes hastily rush to implement it without much thought. This is where a strategy map comes in clutch, because due to its structured framework, you can use it to spot deficiencies and omissions.
An example here would be implementing precise performance measurements at the top levels, whilst trickling down unclear, vague requirements at the lower levels.
- Making adjustments – if your organizational strategy has major gaps, not because of oversight, but due to the company’s organizational layout, a strategy map can find a way to fit each piece so that you are left with no gaps
Whilst the concept of strategy is a thoroughly complex one, once you understand the basic process behind setting such an organizational chart, things start to feel like smooth sailing.
One of the most important things to remember is that a company’s strategy represents its future. If you choose to forego any form of training about this topic and simply go in blind, there’s a high probability that your good intentions might bring more harm.
If time represents a major constraint, then resources such as online courses or webinars can point you in the right direction and offer you a good set of guidelines to follow. It will prove a much better experience than trying to implement a strategy by gut feel.