Forget Your Business Plan. Create a Strategy Map.

Strategic plans become outdated the moment they're created. Instead, create a one-page strategy map.

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Having run the internal strategy consulting group at HP, and then consulting to both startups and big companies like Disney, Visa, Colgate, Medtronic and others, I’ve created hundreds of strategic plans.

Business strategy used to be a clear and methodical process. No more.

Today’s discontinuous technologies and disruptive change have reinvented the rules of strategic planning.  If you’re going after a new market space or creating a new-to-the-world product or service, or reinventing an industry business model, gone are the days of traditional plans and forecasts. There’s just too much uncertainty in the world now to be constrained by rigid planning processes.

So what do you do? You create a Strategy Map.

A Strategy Map is a visual representation of your vision and related priority strategic objectives. A good Strategy Map basically communicates what needs to happen to achieve your vision at a high level in the short, mid- and longer-terms – ideally on a single page.

Here’s a template that anyone can download and modify to build out their own strategy map.  The template includes the following categories, organized by what needs to happen in the short-, mid- and longer-terms:

  • Vision – what’s the world you want to create in the future?
  • Strategic focus – how does your strategy needs to shift over time?
  • Strategic goals – what specific goals support your strategy?
  • Target markets & customers – what markets or customers will you tackle over time?
  • Solutions – what offerings will you provide and how will these change over time?
  • Key risks & barriers – what risks or barriers might you encounter?
  • Key metrics – how will you measure success?

In full disclosure, this template comes from upBOARD, the company I co-founded that’s creating the world’s largest library of business process apps. Modify the categories in the template to suit your specific organization’s focus. And be sure to update the template regularly as you learn new things and as the world changes around you – that’s what modern-day strategy is all about in today’s disruptive world.

Soren Kaplan is the bestselling and award-winning author of Leapfrogging and The Invisible Advantage, an affiliated professor at USC’s Center for Effective Organizations, a former corporate executive, and a co-founder of UpBOARD. He has been recognized by the Thinkers50 as one of the world’s top keynote speakers and thought leaders in business strategy and innovation.

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