Strategy models & frameworks
What is it?
The Cascade Model of Strategy shows that strategy is the inter-connection between a destination, the value of getting there and the handful of core methods by which you get there. Strategy Mapping is the process that connects this cascade of goals together using why-how logic.
The Cascade Model of Strategy and Strategy Mapping feature in Mike’s book ‘The Strategy Manual: A step-by-step guide to the transformational change of anything‘ and are also covered in our Strategy Master Workshops.
How do I use it?
The Cascade Model of Strategy can be used to demonstrate that strategy defines your desired future state, identifies the benefits of achieving it and proposes the core methods needed to get there. Strategy mapping is the technique that can be used to build the cascade of connections between strategic goals that is required to bring about strategic success. A strategy map presents strategic goals in a prioritised, validated logic diagram that can be used to manage and track the performance of strategy, assess strategic risks and ensure systematic strategy adoption, whilst helping to identify missing goals and opportunities for innovation.
Strategy mapping uses a simple, recursive process to connect your strategic goals together in a strategy cascade using why-how logic. It enables you to systematically validate every part of your strategy, and then put it into action by delegating, prioritising and measuring the progress of strategic goals in ways that ladder up to strategic success. Strategy mapping can be used to:
- align the strategic actions across your organisation and hence make your overall strategy more purposeful. Strategy mapping provides joined-up strategic thinking that underpins multiple strategy documents to maintain strategic coherence;
- make your strategy more innovative, by identifying alternative ways to reach your strategic goals. ‘How else can we achieve this purpose?’ and ‘Why else should we achieve this method?’;
- validate your strategy to ensure its internal consistency by identifying missing goals (the things you should be doing) and surplus goals (the things you really don’t need to be doing).
A strategy map can also inform and guide strategic planning by enabling:
- effective delegation of goals (strategic actions), whilst giving everyone a genuine sense of ownership and involvement by linking their actions to the organisation’s ultimate purpose;
- prioritisation of goals to ensure maximum impact of strategic actions;
- setting and tracking of targets that aggregate performance up to meaningful KPIs. Strategy maps ensure that the sum of all the small front-line changes add up to strategic success.
By wording goals in a strategy map in a particular way (verb+noun pair, e.g. ‘reduce our carbon footprint’) goals can, at the same time, be the purpose of the goal below and the method of the goal above. This enables strategy maps to systematically and logically connect the strategic aspirations of senior leadership to the tactical actions of front-line teams. Goal attributes (e.g. goal owner, performance indicator, priority, resources) give context to your goals and enable delegation (and hence accountability), prioritisation and tracking.
Strategy maps branch up as well as down because goals can not only have multiple methods to achieve them but can also serve multiple purposes. The map can be built out to accommodate this, ensuring that all goals included in the map are sufficient and necessary to achieve strategic success.*
*Use the SaNity Check Model to ensure the sufficiency and necessity of goals in a strategy map.
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Author of 'The Strategy Manual' and 'Core Values', Goal Atlas founder and Director, Mike Baxter, is a renowned strategy expert, keynote speaker and thought leader. He publishes regular articles on all aspects of strategy and strategic planning and frequently shares his ideas and expertise via the Strategy Distilled newsletter, LinkedIn and other invited presentations.
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