A Simple Strategy Graphic

Many of the government leaders I work with struggle to find the time and focus to engage in strategic planning for their Many of the government leaders I work with struggle to find the time and focus to engage in strategic planning for their program, office, or agency. Putting out fires, managing staff, and the endless procession of meetings overwhelm their best efforts. In the face of those constraints, I recommend leaders simplify and focus on taking a small amount of time out to think about the bigger picture. Even a short planning session or conversation with your leadership team, key advisors, or stakeholders can re-energize you and help you better prioritize your resources and attention. You can use this simple three circle or “Bullseye” graphic as a way to guide that process. Start your conversation from the outside and work your  way in. In the outer circle is “Your Environment”. These are the trends and drivers shaping the larger world in which you work. These could be technologies like cloud computing or ubiquitous mobility or low-cost gene sequencing. You can also talk about some of the societal trends that technologies and other factors create like demands for increased transparency or new kinds of metrics to show value. I just write a phrase representing that trend or driver in the outer circle to capture the idea.

Next you move to how those trends and drivers are affecting your stakeholders and, in particular, your customers. Is cloud computing cutting their costs or challenging their business model or is it doing both? Go through each of the trends and drivers and think about how it is impacting your customer set. Then move on to your other stakeholders like your agency management, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress. How are those larger trends shaping their expectations of you?

After you’ve thought through how the trends are impacting your stakeholder base, now it’s time to look internally. How are the new expectations impacting your office or agency? How is your staff dealing with the change? Do they have the skills they need? Do you have the resources or strategic focus you need?

Now you can link a larger trend in the overall environment to a customer need to an action your organization can take. This linkage can help you prioritize which issues you need to focus strategic time on and they can help you begin to build the case to take action.