Strategy models & frameworks

The Sanity Check Model

Goal Atlas - SaNity Check Model

Strategy Map

Goal Atlas - Basic Strategy Map

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What is it?

The SaNity Check Model checks the Sufficiency and Necessity of goals in a strategy map. Once the entire strategy map has been checked for the sufficiency and necessity of all of its goals, the strategy map is considered to be validated.

The SaNity Check Model features in Mike’s book ‘The Strategy Manual: A step-by-step guide to the transformational change of anything‘ and is also covered in our Strategy Master Workshops.

How do I use it?

Goals in a strategy map have both methods and purposes*. The Sanity Check Model is used to validate the strategy map by considering, for each goal, whether the purposes identified for that goal are sufficient and necessary to justify it, and then whether the methods identified are sufficient and necessary to achieve it.

Explanation:

In strategy mapping, goals are written as verb+noun pairs, e.g. increase (verb) profit from sales (noun); run (verb) a marathon (noun); reduce (verb) carbon footprint (noun). Each goal is the method of achieving the goal above it in the map, and the purpose of the goals below it, so with goals A, B, C, D, E and F:

  • Goals A and B are the purposes of Goal C;
  • Goal C is the purpose of Goals D, E and F;
  • Goals D, E and F are the methods of achieving Goal C;
  • Goal C is the method of achieving Goals A and B.

The why-how logic of strategy mapping enables the internal consistency of your strategy to be validated:

  • How do I achieve Goal C? 
    In order to [Goal C] I need to [Goal D] and [Goal E] and [Goal F].
  • Why do I want to achieve Goal C?
    I want to [Goal C] in order to [Goal A] and [Goal B].

If each goal is indeed the method of the goal above it and the purpose of the goals below it, and if this pattern repeats across the entire strategy map, you already have a considerable amount of validity in that map. Rigorous why-how logic, however, can only tell you if the goals you already have in the map are connected together correctly, but it can’t say if anything is missing or surplus to requirements. For this you need to add the SaNity Check Model.
The SaNity Check Model, so-called because it checks the Sufficiency and Necessity of the goals in the strategy map, provides the final validation step to ensure your strategy delivers the impact you intend it to. To use the Sanity Check Model, you need to consider the following questions for all goals across the map:

  • Are the methods sufficient to achieve each goal they serve? Is there a method missing that would be required to achieve any goal?
  • Is each method necessary to achieve the goal in question? Are any methods superfluous?
  • Are the purposes of each goal sufficient justification for it? Are there other purposes that this goal serves?
  • Is each purpose necessary to justify the goal in question? Are any purposes superfluous?

Questioning sufficiency and necessity ensures that assumptions are made explicit, the decision for the inclusion of goals is explained and their justification is transparent. In this way, arguments for and against sufficiency and necessity can be compared and evaluated.

* 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.

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Author of 'The Strategy Manual', 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 LinkedIn, Twitter and other invited presentations.

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