Facilitation Technique: The Strategy Wall

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Have you ever worked in one of those organizations that has gone through every kind of strategy exercise imaginable? They’ve built a Strategy Map, Balanced Scorecard, Brand Pillars, SWAT Analysis, Priorities Alignment, Yearly Plan, Three Year Roadmap, and possibly dozens of other “strategic” activities?

These frameworks can all be helpful, but sometimes, when too many of them have been done for too many years, the conflicts and gaps between these frameworks begin to appear more like a maze than guidelines.

So, what can you do?

One solution, inspired by one of our recent clients, is to build a Strategy Wall. In order to pull these different frameworks together, we printed out each of the strategic activities on poster sized paper and hung them on a single physical wall. This may seem like a simple exercise, but the results speak for themselves. Being able to easily see the strategy all in one place, in a larger than life format, really helps enable you to effectively combine, cut, patch, and clean up the strategy in a way that’s just not possible otherwise. In our most recent experience, using the strategy wall helped our client in two major ways:

First, it helped the executives see the conflicts between the strategies. For example, a clear priority from their primary strategic activity (they called it a Strategy Map) was pursuing a new vertical for their products. However, nowhere in their yearly plan, or even three-year roadmap, were there steps to move in that direction.

Second, it showed that, while there were conflicts and gaps, for the most part the strategies were in reasonable alignment. Taken as a whole, even with their flaws, they showed a well thought out path. Pulling them into a single room where executives could gather to discuss the strategic priorities of the business proved to be a valuable activity.

So, next time you find yourself trapped in a maze of strategic activities, try building a wall; a strategy wall.

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