Strategy Mapping – Defined
Strategy mapping is a graphical representation of key strategic goals, showing the logic that connects them together. It can be used to systematically connect the strategic aspirations of senior leadership to the enabling actions of front-line teams. A strategy map (the output from strategy mapping) is an interconnected cascade of goals, connected together using why-how logic.
Watch our introductory video on Strategy Mapping:
This three and a half minute video:
- explains the strategic challenges that strategy mapping helps resolve
- gives a simple lifestyle example (the whys and hows of running a marathon) to show how strategy mapping works
- moves on to a more business-focused example (increasing revenue from online sales)
- and then shows how strategy mapping can interconnect related business goals
What strategy mapping is used for
Strategy adoption The most obvious use of strategy mapping is to enable strategy adoption across your organisation. Working down from the top of a strategy map, you start with the highest-level strategic goals and need to decide how best to achieve them. A strategy map helps you drill down from these top-level goals by asking a repeated series of ‘how?’ questions. With each ‘how?’ you ask, you will move further from actions undertaken by senior leadership and closer to actions taken by front-line teams.
Validating the strategy you’re developing Less obvious but just as valuable is to use strategy mapping as a technique for systematically validating your strategy, as you develop it. Essentially this involves asking, for each goal on the map, 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. Learn more about this – it’s called the SaNity Check Model.
Designing effective KPIs for tracking strategy Connected goals together by means of why-how logic produces a cascade of causation. Completing all the goals at the bottom of the strategy map will cause the goals higher up to be completed, and so on to the top of the map. This connectivity makes it a lot easier to define KPIs to track progress towards strategic success. Measurements of success at the bottom of the map aggregate up to measurements of success higher up the map.
Innovation and risk management Many other great things that can be achieved with strategy mapping. For example, pick any goal on the map and you can ask ‘how else could this goal be achieved?’ or ‘what other prupose could this goal serve?’ in order to be more systematic in screening innovation opportunities. Or Work through the entire strategy map and ask ‘what would happen if this goal could not be achieved?’ – this gives a structured approach to strategic risk management.
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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 the Strategy Distilled newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter and other invited presentations.
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