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The Six Disciplines Blog


Friday, January 24, 2014

Too Many Strategic Initiatives?

Is your organization “drowning” in too many strategic initiatives?

If you’re evaluating far more opportunities than your team can realistically handle, it’s time to do a serious screening of those initiatives.

According to Robert W. Bradford, President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, your organization should only take on between 3 – 10 strategic opportunities, depending on the size, breadth of your team and its resources. (We’ve found the fewer, the better.)

Bradford recommends a senior team exercise in which you simply ask the team to rate each opportunity on two dimensions – resource requirements and strategic impact on the organization.

  • For resource requirements, you may want to anchor the rating on a one to five scale. In a medium sized company, a one might indicate resources commensurate with an individual employee’s initiative – requiring little management of either manpower or money. A two could correspond with departmental level resources, a three with two or more departments, and a five would indicate a need for co-ordination of resources across the entire company.
  • For strategic impact, we used one for “nice to do”, three for “important” and five for “critical to our future”. Note that we do NOT rate on a purely financial basis, and in practice, opportunities with a strictly financial payoff were generally given a three impact rating – that is, a simple boost to profit is not enough to earn an opportunity high marks on strategic impact.

BOTTOM LINE: “If your organization is plagued by a surplus of incremental projects or “just do it” items that are overwhelming mid-level management, this approach to opportunity screening may give you one more way to rationally say “no” to things that will impede your strategic progress.”

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Since 2005, the Six Disciplines blog offers posts about performance excellence, strategy execution, business coaching, leadership development, innovation, and business process improvement. This blog has received prestigious awards for leadership and management and has been syndicated by several major media sources.