New business models, global disruptions, and a need for rapid changes inspired various approaches to strategic planning, also known as strategic planning models.
What all planning models have in common is that they help you translate strategies into action and aim to provide you with structure in the process of creating a strategic plan. But there are now countless frameworks, each with its own approach.
We summarized the 5 most popular strategic planning models in one place so you can start building your own strategic plan in no time.
To get there, let’s explore:
- What is a Strategic Planning Model?
- Planning or strategy: Where to start?
- The Cascade Model
- The Hoshin Kanri Model
- Balanced Scorecard
- Strategic Planning Process Model vs Strategic Frameworks
- Strategy Model: Which One Is Right For You?
What is a Strategic Planning Model?
A strategic planning model is a collective term for several elements contributing to the strategic planning process. The core components of a strategic planning model include:
- A templated structure for creating strategic goals.
- A loose structure of governance to help you manage and track your strategy.
You can think of strategic planning models as “templates” into which you can drop your own ideas. In the end, you'll come out with a strategic plan which is sensibly structured and gives you a clear roadmap to hit your business goals.
Now that we've defined what a strategic planning model actually is, let's look a bit deeper into each element that one should contain.
2 essential elements of any effective strategic planning model
- Structure refers to the different elements of your strategic plan and how they all fit together. For example, your structure may start with a Vision and Mission Statement, then flow into Values, Focus Areas, and any number of Goal levels.
- Governance refers to how you'll go about actually tracking and reporting on the execution of your strategy.
Planning or strategy: Where to start?
Before we move into the planning section of this article, let’s clarify a common confusion around strategy and strategic planning. What’s the difference and what comes first?
First, do not mistake strategy for a plan. In short, strategy is the act of making strategic choices, while a plan is a roadmap with timelines, owners, and deliverables.
Before laying out your plan, you should get a better understanding of your internal and external business environment so you can make strategic choices and prioritize initiatives.
“The heart of the strategy is the matched pair of Where-to-Play and How-to-Win.” - Roger Martin, Bestselling Author and Strategy Advisor
You should always start with strategic analysis. Through this process, you will be able to identify competitive advantage, assess organizational capacity, analyze external factors that might impact your strategy, and find other opportunities you could exploit.
Feel free to use multiple strategic analysis tools since each has its own purpose.
📚Here’s a list of the most popular strategic tools and frameworks that can help you brainstorm your strategy:
- VRIO Framework
- SWOT Analysis
- PESTLE Analysis
- Porter’s Five Forces
- GE Matrix
- Ansoff Matrix
- McKinsey 7S Model
- Blue Ocean Strategy
Once you have a clear picture of where you want your organization to be in the short-term and long-term future (and where you do NOT want it to be), you can start building a strategic plan that will take you to your destination. And this is where strategic planning models come into play.
Note: Every organization is unique and has different stakeholder needs. Thus, every strategic plan is unique. The goal here is to give you perspective on how you can approach your planning before you dive into the details.
Below, you’ll find examples of strategic planning models that include both Structure & Governance since both are critical to implementing your strategic plan. Because, what's the point in having an awesome strategy on paper if you have no effective way to actually execute it?
The Cascade Model
The Cascade model is hands-down the most effective example of a strategic planning model that you can find.
It is simple to understand and easy to implement, facilitating the execution of your strategy. Its straightforward structure is suitable for organizations and teams of any size and industry.
Here's a snippet of the structure:
Let's dive into the key elements of the Cascade Strategic Planning Model, its structure and governance.
The structural elements of the Cascade strategic model:
- Identify your vision statement. This statement(s) describes why the organization exists, i.e., its basic purpose.
- Define your company’s values. Describe how you want your organization to behave as it strives towards its Vision.
- Craft your focus areas. They articulate the key areas on which you'll be focusing your efforts to help deliver your Vision.
- Create your objectives. Your strategic objectives define more specifically the outcomes you want to achieve under each of your Focus Areas.
- Define your KPIs. Each of your Objectives should contain at least one or two KPIs to help you measure whether or not you're close to reaching your desired outcomes (Objectives).
- Create your projects. These are one of the most critical elements in your strategic planning model, as they state exactly what actions you will take to deliver against your Objectives.
The governance elements of the Cascade strategic model:
- Monthly Strategic Reports. Team members can create reports at the objective, team, individual, KPI, and action levels. Using Cascade, users can add text, charts, and tables to their reports to provide more context for the reader.
- Project Updates. These are ad hoc updates made against the Project level of the plan and include general project management updates and progress.
- KPI Dashboards. In addition to providing real-time data, they allow users to look back and understand what happened over time using data sources that are available. Live dashboards are essential for identifying deviations from KPI tolerance levels, explaining the difference, and setting an action plan to resolve the issue.
When you combine the goal and the governance elements of this strategic planning model, you get a comprehensive set of tools that you can use not just for creating your plan but also for executing it.
The Hoshin Kanri Model
The Hoshin Kanri model is a strategic planning model that organizations use to drive a consistent focus throughout many levels of their structure.
This makes it ideal for large organizations with different layers of management, including “top-level” executive management, “middle managers,” and “front-line” staff.
Much of the work we did to create the Cascade Strategic Model was inspired by Hoshin Kanri.
So it's certainly a strategic planning model that we respect and admire here at Cascade. Let's dive into the detail of the Hoshin strategic planning model with a quick visual:
The structural elements of the Hoshin Kanri strategic model:
- The first level of the Hoshin Kanri strategic planning model refers to your vision. A distant horizon that will guide everything that sits beneath.
- Then you move on to your 3-5 Year Strategies. These are high-level summaries of what you want to achieve (qualitatively and quantitatively).
- Beneath that, you define Annual Objectives, which will be split between different departments.
- Finally, you determine your Action Items. They are specific things you are going to do to reach your Annual Objectives.
The governance elements of the Hoshin Kanri strategic model:
- Monthly Reviews. These are done against the Annual Objectives and require the goals' owners to provide descriptive progress updates.
- Annual Reviews. These are also done against the Annual Objectives. However, they happen at the end of the time period and encompass a decision point on whether to mark the Annual Objective as complete or roll it over into another year.
There are many different ways to implement the Hoshin Kanri strategic planning model. Above is a simplified explanation that covers most of the core elements.
OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
The OKR model is a goal-setting and planning framework that focuses on quarterly sets of OKRs and is reviewed by every management level in the organization.
The basic structure of the OKR strategic planning model looks something like this:
As with the Cascade Strategic Planning Model and Hoshin Kanri, the OKR strategy model has the following key elements.
The structural elements of the OKRs strategic model:
- Objectives. These describe the outcome you are looking for in the current quarter.
- Key Results. These are specific metrics that describe your progress toward your Objective in numerical terms.
- Initiatives. These are tasks or projects that sit against each of your Key Results. Once completed, they should help you reach your Key Results.
The governance elements of the OKRs strategic model:
- Weekly Check-Ins. Each Key Result should have a weekly check-in that covers your confidence level in achieving that OKR, action plan, and general progress updates.
- Quarterly Review. For each Objective, a formal quarterly review should be undertaken where that OKR is given a “score” (usually from 0 to 1) and a decision is made on what to do with that OKR in the next quarter.
Balanced scorecard (also known as BSC) helps organizations drive and assess business performance by organizing key performance indicators (KPIs) into four focus areas: Financial, Customer, Internal Processes, and Learning & Growth.
Here is an example of a basic Balanced Scorecard structure:
The structural elements of the Balanced Scorecard:
- Four perspectives that act as your focus areas.
- Strategic objectives where you define your desired outcomes.
- Projects that outline specific initiatives, timelines, and resources.
- KPIs that measure progress and success.
The governance elements of Balanced Scorecard:
- Strategy dashboards where you should see the real-time status of each perspective and a summary of your key objectives, projects, and KPIs.
- Weekly or Monthly reports where each owner provides progress updates and short-term action plans.
- The strategy map shows how are four perspectives layered and cause-and-effect connections between strategic objectives.
- How To Implement The Balanced Scorecard Framework (With Examples)
- Balanced Scorecard Template (Free)
V2MOM is one of the most simple strategic planning and alignment models out there. Developed by Salesforce's cofounder, Marc Benioff, it helps you implement and drive alignment across your organization.
The model can be used in a variety of organizations, including small businesses, startups, and nonprofits.
As a top-down approach, V2MOM scales across your organization at all levels, including the business unit, department, team, or individual. However, this model won't work if your organization is siloed, as each V2MOM document should be aligned with the top-level V2MOM plan.
An example of a basic V2MOM structure would look like this:
The structural elements of the V2MOM:
- Vision. Like with the Cascade Model, this is where you define your vision of the future.
- Values. A set of values that drive your company’s culture.
- Methods. Strategic objectives, projects, or other strategic initiatives that will help your organization get one step closer to its vision.
- Obstacles. Compared to other models, this is a unique element. It should identify all possible obstacles and risks that can prevent you execute the plan.
- Measures. A set of KPIs that will measure your performance and progress.
The governance elements of V2MOM:
The original V2MOM approach only outlines the structure, but it does not offer a solution to track and measure performance. To meet the needs of our clients, we leveled up V2MOM to help teams measure their performance against set goals in a strategy execution platform:
- Customizable strategy dashboards where leadership teams and team members can get insight into what’s happening across the organization or with specific initiatives.
- Reports that analyze in-depth raw data of the past, and turns it into actionable narratives for regular review meetings and faster decision-making.
An example of a report in Cascade
Strategic Planning Process Model vs Strategic Frameworks
It's important to distinguish between strategy frameworks and strategic planning models before you jump into the strategic planning process. Online resources use these terms interchangeably, but they are in fact quite different.
Strategic planning models provide a way to structure the information of your strategy and the content of your strategic plan.
Strategic frameworks, including analysis tools, provide the context that surrounds your strategic plan, and the information that helps you define your strategy.
There are a few different views on this subject, but here is what we think makes the most sense:
- A strategic framework is a general term that covers different types of frameworks, including strategic analysis frameworks, goal-based frameworks, and strategic planning frameworks (in this case, also called strategic planning models).
- A strategic planning model refers to the overall structure you apply to your strategic planning process. It roughly describes the various components and how they interact with one another. For example, imagine an architect building an airport.
A model of the airport would show you at a high level how the approach roads connect to the departure hall and how the departure hall connects to immigration, which then connects to the terminals, the runways, etc.
A strategic planning model functions much the same way in that it describes each of the elements of a coherent strategy: what they do, how they fit together, and in what order.
Strategy Model: Which One Is Right For You? 👀
The examples of strategic planning models we've picked have a lot in common. There's a good reason for it.
The best strategic planning models are simple, contain all the right elements, and combine goal setting with governance.
As a result, they serve you well when it comes to building a highly effective strategic management process and executing your strategy.
You can't really go wrong with any of the strategic planning model examples we've outlined above: Cascade Model, Balanced Scorecard, V2MOM, Hoshin Kanri, or OKRs.
In the Cascade strategy execution platform, you can import or create a strategic plan no matter the model you use since our strategic planning tool is sophisticated enough to customize it to your way of doing strategy.
What is the difference between strategic planning and strategic management?
The main difference between strategic planning and strategic management is that strategic planning is just a stage within the strategic management process.
What are the 5 models of strategic management?
There are more than five models of strategic management. A strategic management process involves multiple stages, including strategic analysis, strategy formulation, strategy execution, and strategy evaluation. There are multiple models and frameworks suitable for each stage of the strategic process.