Strategies need structure.
Strategic planning models provide that structure for the process of creating a strategic plan.
In this article, we explain
- What is a strategic planning model?
- Strategic planning process models vs strategic frameworks
- The Cascade Strategic Planning Model
- The Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Model
- The OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) Strategic Planning Model
- How to choose the right strategic planning model
We've chosen a range of different strategic model examples, so finding one that suits you should be a breeze! We've also compiled this article into a PDF that you can download here.
What is a Strategic Planning Model?
A strategic planning model is a collective term for several elements that contribute to the strategic planning process. The core components of a strategic planning model include:
- A templated structure for creating goals.
- Frameworks for helping you to actually decide what you want to work on.
- 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 set of actions upon which to work. Now that we've defined what a strategic planning model actually is let's look at the different elements that one should contain.
The 3 essential elements of any good strategic planning model
- Structure refers to the different components of your strategic plan and how they all fit together. For example, your structure may start with a Vision Statement, then flow into Values, Focus Areas, and any number of Goal levels.
- Frameworks are methodologies that you can apply to help you come up with your goals, as well as categorize your goals to ensure they're balanced and will meet your needs.
- Governance refers to how you'll go about actually tracking and reporting on the goal elements of your strategy.
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?
For the purpose of this article, we're only looking at those specific two elements of a strategic planning model, as we've already covered strategy frameworks in an earlier article
Strategic Planning Process Models vs Strategic Frameworks
Strategic planning frameworks and strategic planning models are not the same things.
Online resources use these terms interchangeably, but they're quite different. You'll find a few different takes on this subject, but here’s the distinction we find makes the most sense:
Strategic Planning Models provide structure
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
Strategic Planning Frameworks provide principles
A strategic planning framework refers to the conceptual approach you will bring to populating your strategic plan.
In our airport example, we might apply a building frame designed to maximize the speed at which people move through the airport for efficiency. Or alternatively, we might apply a framework designed not to maximize speed but rather to maximize the amount of time people spend in the airport shops. These are two very different approaches to building an airport. Hence, two different frameworks.
However, both frameworks could use the same overall model.
What to choose first: the strategic planning model or framework
Strategic planning models provide a way to structure the information of your strategy, the content of your strategic plan.
Strategic planning frameworks provide the context that surrounds your strategic plan, the information that helped you define your strategy.
You should always start by selecting your strategic planning model. Then, move on to selecting your strategic planning framework. Feel free to mix and match multiple different frameworks into your model, since nobody uses them in whole.
In this article, we cover 3 examples of strategic planning models. However, here are a few examples of strategic planning frameworks you'll want to check out:
Every organization is unique. 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.
Important note: All of the strategic planning model examples below are framework agnostic. That means that regardless of which strategic planning model you choose, you can apply any number of frameworks to help you actually come up with your goals!
Here are 3 examples of strategic planning models to help you structure your strategy.
Example 1: The Cascade Strategic Planning Model
The Cascade model is hands-down the best example of a strategic planning model that you can find. Our comprehensive guide on how to write a strategic plan explains in detail how to implement this model. Below, you’ll find a summary version.
This strategic planning model is simple to understand and easy to implement, facilitating the execution of your strategy. Here's a quick look:
Let's dive into two of 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
These articulate the key areas that you'll be focusing your efforts on 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).
- Specify 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
These apply only to Objectives and require the owner to provide a narrative update on the overall progress towards the Objective.
- Project Updates
These are ad hoc updates made against the Project level of the plan and include general updates and progress.
- KPI Exceptions
These are required when KPIs are outside of their tolerance level and explain the difference and any actions taken to address the gap.
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.
Example 2: The Hoshin Kanri Strategic Planning Model
The Hoshin Kanri model is a strategic planning model that organizations use to drive a consistent focus throughout many levels of their structure.
As such, it's well suited 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 owners of the goals to provide descriptive updates of progress.
- 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 quite a few different ways to implement the Hoshin Kanri strategic planning model. Above is a simplified explanation that covers most of the core elements.
Example 3: The OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) Strategic Planning Model
The OKR model was popularized by Intel and, more recently, Google.
It focuses on quarterly sets of “OKRs” set and reviewed by every management level in the organization. The OKR strategic planning model looks something like this:
As with the Cascade Strategic Planning Model and Hoshin Kanri, the OKR strategy model comprises two key elements.
The structural elements of the OKRs strategic model
These describe the outcome you are looking for in the current quarter (remember, OKRs are designed to evolve each quarter).
- Key Results
These are specific measures that describe your progress towards your Objective in numerical terms.
These are small “tasks” that sit against each of your Key Results that, when completed, should take you closer towards achieving that Key Result.
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, as well as remediation steps 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.
How to choose the right strategic planning model
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
- Combine goal setting with governance
That way, they serve you well when it comes to execution.
As such, you can't really go wrong with any of the strategic planning model examples we've outlined here. In the Cascade platform, you input your strategic plan no matter the model you use since our platform is sophisticated enough to customize it to your way of doing strategy.
Take a tour of Cascade to understand why you need to ditch your excel sheets.