Inadequate planning is a persistent problem and fundamental when organizations attempt to carryout the strategic intent of management. Most organizations have a planning function and the resulting planning documents are often specific and clear about the financial and physical inputs, activities of people, and the expected physical results. What is often missing, is a thorough assessment of the overall objectives, the stakeholders, and the external factors and assumptions which determine ultimate success or failure of the organization. This article opens the door to an exciting tool called StratFrame(TM).
Deficiencies in planning are typically reflected in inadequate monitoring systems. During the implementation phase, there is generally too much emphasis on physical results and too little on policy issues and environmental issues affecting operations.
As a result, strategic initiatives and supporting projects have a tendency to morph in unintended directions and fail to respond to the needs of the stakeholders. As a result the supporting projects may have unforeseen negative results that could have been avoided with strategic thinking coupled with systematic planning.
Effective continuous improvement and genuine performance enhancement require improved planning and project preparation with more emphasis on monitoring, analysis, and evaluation throughout the life time of each project.
One solution to these short-comings is a project planning tool called the StratFrame(TM). It is an analytic tool focused on strategic objectives oriented planning and management. When coupled with Strategic Thinking processes, it provides a systematic and logical analysis of inter-related key initiative components. This improves planning by focusing on the linkages between key elements of the strategic plan and provides a common understanding and better communication of strategic elements.
Using StratFrame(TM) helps to:
- Clarify the purpose and justification for a strategic initiative or project
- Identify information requirements
- Clearly define the key elements of a project
- Facilitate communication between all stakeholders
- Identify how to measure the success or failure of the initiative or project.
In the approach, a strategic initiative is seen as a causally linked sequence of events. These events are:
- Immediate objectives
- Strategic objective
The relationship of these events are based upon the following assumptions:
- If the inputs are available, then the activities will take place
- If the activities take place then the outputs will be produced
- If the outputs are produced, then the immediate objective will be achieved
- In the long run this will contribute to the fulfillment of the Strategic objective.
The key to these assumptions producing desired results is dependent upon key related external factors at each level. These key factors are typically outside the control of the initiative or project manager, but have to be fulfilled in order for the initiative to succeed. The system is an easy methodology for monitoring these linkages and external factors.