min read

Strategy Review: How To Run It & What To Include

Article by 
Cascade Team
  —  Published 
November 9, 2023
February 27, 2024

If you want to hit business targets before the year or quarter ends, you need to run effective strategy reviews. 

These reviews are an important part of strategy governance, equipping the leadership team with a comprehensive view of the organization’s performance and the data required for confident decision-making. 

Effective strategy reviews also help operational leaders and their teams improve operational efficiency by focusing on initiatives that drive business objectives without getting lost in daily tasks. 

With this in mind, here’s our detailed guide on how to conduct different types of strategy reviews.

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What Is A Strategy Review?

A strategy review is a systematic evaluation and assessment of the organization's plans, initiatives, and goals. It’s a regular strategy meeting involving key stakeholders to determine the progress of the company’s strategic direction and check if everyone is still aligned with the business roadmap

When doing a strategy review, you must answer the following critical questions:

  • How are activities in the strategic plan performing?
  • Are we getting the expected results?
  • Do we need to revisit the strategy due to some unforeseen issues?
  • Are there factors that require us to change the strategic plan?

A strategic review ensures your short-term strategies align with the organization’s long-term strategic objectives and priorities. It also ensures you remain responsive to changes in the external market and that the current strategy is still the best approach to get your desired results.

How Often Should A Strategy Be Reviewed?

Typically, companies revisit their strategic plans once a year or occasionally as needed. Annual or irregular reviews put your organization at risk of missing opportunities, escalating preventable crises, and becoming too slow to adapt to market shifts

Strategy Execution Experts at Cascade recommend a different, more dynamic approach. 

They advise businesses to exercise ongoing strategic governance through systematic, bite-sized reviews.

With a more regular approach, you can identify and respond to any changes quickly, as well as reallocate and reprioritize resources depending on your organization’s needs.

They propose performing strategy reviews at two levels:

Strategy reviews types
Strategy reviews types

Dynamic performance & strategy review 

This includes business leaders and department heads. It’s a comprehensive high-level assessment of ongoing initiatives. Doing it quarterly ensures you can make strategic adjustments quickly and remain responsive to shifting market dynamics.

Operational health check 

This one is done more frequently and involves department heads, team leads, and program managers. This monthly review focuses on day-to-day operations and helps detect issues on time. It also ensures strategic alignment at the lower levels of the organization. 

How To Run A Strategy Review?

To effectively run a strategy review meeting, you need a structured process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Prepare the data before the strategy review meeting

One of the crucial steps prior to the strategy review meeting is having all the required data within your reach—to ensure you’ll have the necessary data the day of the meeting. Using data-backed reports will help you and your management team properly evaluate the business performance and refine your short-term strategies. 

📌 If you’re conducting a quarterly dynamic performance review, you need to collect the following reports:

Quarterly dynamic business performance review table
  • Financial performance report that includes department revenue and expenditure forecast
  • Resource utilization and availability report that includes the budget vs. actual performance
  • Business-level operational key performance indicators (KPIs), which include competitive & market analysis, and CSAT & customer retention

📌 If you’re doing a monthly operational health check, you must have the following reports:

  • Resource utilization and availability report that cover budget utilization to target, and employee availability and resourcing constraints
  • Department and team-level operational KPIs, citing the progress to target
  • Project and initiative tracking report, which includes risk & dependency tracking and initiative-relationship mapping

These reports must be prepared in advance by the respective business leaders, department heads, team leads, and project managers expected to attend the strategy meeting.

👉Do it in Cascade: 

Use Cascade’s reports to collect data, show progress, and add business context to all the information. This enables you to communicate clear insights that support better decision-making.

example of financial report in Cascade
Example of financial report in Cascade.
📚 Explore this informative article explaining when to use dashboards versus reports.
#1 Strategy Execution Platform Say goodbye to strategy spreadsheets. It’s time for Cascade. Get started, free  forever

Step 2: Review objectives and past performance

This is the step when you get everyone together in a physical or virtual room. Start with recapping the purpose of the strategy meeting and ensure everyone is aligned from the outset. Give attendees enough time to present the reports they put together, including their KPIs and other achievements since the last session. 

Review significant milestones and examine everyone’s performance thoroughly. This detailed evaluation of historical performance will help you identify patterns and trends to help you achieve future goals.

Step 3: Open the floor for a strategic discussion

After the reports have been presented, encourage the attendees to share their observations and insights. 

Explore the “why” behind the reported information. Why did some activities yield these kinds of results, and why didn't others? Determine if there were any missed opportunities that should’ve been taken or best practices that drove success. 

This is also a great opportunity for leaders to gain valuable insights about what’s happening in other departments and business units. You or a designated facilitator should ensure there’s a balanced discussion and everyone gets to speak. 

Step 4: Discuss new strategies and changes

Next, lay down the rules for how you'll decide which new strategies to pursue, focusing on what will help your organization hit its targets. 

Look at the upsides and downsides of each idea. Facilitate structured discussions and debates to deliberate on the merits of each strategy, ensuring every aspect is thoroughly examined. Use decision-making tools like SWOT analysis that can turn tough strategic decisions into a clear-cut process. 

Final decisions can be achieved through consensus or voting, depending on the organization's culture. 

💡For high-risk strategies, consider pilot testing and have contingency plans in place. 

Step 5: Assign new initiatives and responsibilities

For each new strategy or strategic objective, assign owners and set deadlines.  This will help you create accountability and eliminate ambiguity on who is responsible for what. Deadlines also create a sense of urgency and prevent procrastination. 

Defining clear roles before you end the current review process will ensure that employees will remain committed to the strategy and a more efficient review session next time.

💡Different companies have their own way of doing things—some assign owners during the review meeting, some do it after (check out step 6 below). Pick the method that's best for your organization, but remember assigning owners is a must for accountability.

👉Do it in Cascade:

Using Cascade, you can directly link each action item to its owner and set a specific deadline. A nice progress bar will show the percentage completion of an item. There’s also an indicator of whether an item is on track, behind, or delayed.

owners, deadlines and progress in cascade
Assign owners and deadlines, and track progress in Cascade.

Step 6: Keep everyone in the loop post-meeting

When rolling out new strategies and changes post-review, clarity is key to keep the momentum going. Department heads and team leads must effectively interpret meeting outcomes into actionable departmental plans and relay them to their teams.

For example, if a new sales strategy is in place, the sales manager should outline the action plan, assign responsibilities to team members, and share timelines during a kick-off meeting.

Follow this up with weekly check-ins for progress reports and space for team members to share insights or hurdles they're facing.

👉Do it in Cascade:

Cascade alerts your team whenever changes are made to the plan. Tag owners/contributors, and they'll be notified in real-time. This will help you keep everyone in sync and focused on new priorities. 

Cascade Strategy Execution Platform boosts operational efficiency by cutting duplication and aligning teams toward common goals. It helps to eliminate waste stemming from misalignment, promoting smoother operations and improved performance.

What Are The Benefits Of A Strategy Review?

benefits of a strategy review diagram

Breaking away from conventional practice and implementing a more frequent strategy review has several advantages:

Stay flexible and quick on your feet

By keeping an eye on how your strategy is doing, you can spot new market trends, what your customers want, and what your competitors are up to. 

This means you can quickly tweak your plans and reallocate resources to grab new chances or dodge potential setbacks. Being agile in business today means you're always ahead of the game, ready to outpace your rivals.

Make decisions based on data

When you review your strategy, you're guided by hard data—evaluating KPIs and various business metrics. This data-centric approach grants you a clear lens to assess performance and direct key choices that propel your business ahead. You base your decisions on hard evidence, not just guesses or stories. 

This know-how empowers you to distribute resources where they're most effective and double down on strategies that truly deliver. Regular strategy reviews will also lead to better annual plans rooted in data.

Spot potential problems early on 

By looking at performance metrics and how things are going, you can catch small issues before they turn into big headaches. Mitigating risks proactively means you can sidestep major troubles that might hurt your company's good name.

Keep the company's operations aligned with its business strategy

With regular strategic reviews, teams, and departments across the organization can coordinate their efforts to match the company's main objectives. This coordination helps break down silos between different business units and improves cross-functional collaboration, which is crucial for achieving overall success.

Use Cascade To Hit Your Business Targets  🚀

In strategy meetings, it's not just about reviewing numbers; it's about understanding the "why" behind the data, which is essential for informed decision-making. With Cascade, you can go beyond the numbers and get the full strategic context every time you review the progress of your strategy. 

Cascade simplifies strategy reviews by:

  • Consolidating your data in one place. With Cascade’s 1,000+ integrations with various data sources, you can automate data collection and eliminate the need for manual entry. This ensures information presented during strategy meetings is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Using real-time dashboards. Cascade consolidates diverse business metrics into real-time dashboards, giving you a comprehensive view of the organization’s performance. These dashboards provide an instant visualization of key business metrics, making it easier for teams to assess progress and identify trends at a glance.
  • Offering pre-built report templates. Building reports for frequent strategic meetings can be time-consuming. Cascade provides pre-built templates that simplify the reporting process, saving you time and ensuring report consistency. 
  • Adding strategic context. Cascade’s reports include actionable narratives that can be tailor-made and ready for regular reviews at any time. These narratives reflect the organization’s progress and can be easily presented or shared with stakeholders. 

Support your organization’s resilience by doing frequent bite-sized strategic reviews. Let Cascade handle the grunt work so you can focus on the execution. 

Sign up today for free or book a 1:1 product tour with Cascade’s strategy expert.

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