The Strategic Cube: improving strategy execution

Non-profit boards sometimes have difficulty seeing their strategic plan reflected in their ongoing regular meeting agendas and interactions with management. Organisations that have integrated their strategic thinking into their structures and operations rarely suffer the problem of forgetting what their strategic goals are.

The ‘strategic cube’ illustrated above is one way of conceptualising the influence strategic decisions have on operations and allows execution (or implementation) of the strategy to be made visible in the ongoing work of the board, as it addresses the performance and conformance aspects of governance.

Using this three-dimensional construct allows management to work with staff to translate strategic goals and targets into operational plans and performance measures which focus staff activities, and provide mechanisms for accountability back to the board.

Using a hypothetical organisation to unpack the approach, we find:

  • Financial plans or annual budgets (per business unit and overall) are approved in March in light of the Strategy approved by the Board in December. Later budget variations are reviewed / approved as new strategic proposals are filtered through risk analysis and adopted.
  • Key messages, audiences and communications vehicles are updated in the Communications Plan as the Strategy is amended and new developments arise.
  • The HR Plan is refined as staffing needs are reassessed in the light of the new Strategy and also as new proposals are considered (for example ‘are current, temporary or new staff required?’). Annual performance targets and plans for each staff member are aligned with strategic priorities where appropriate.
  • IT system and process requirements are updated in the IT Plan as new strategic proposals are adopted and technological developments occur.
  • The risks of action or inaction are considered for each proposal, and the Risk Register is updated as new proposals and strategic goals are adopted.
  • Other aspects of operations and administration are adjusted to support the achievement of strategic goals as required (within resource constraints).

Management reports to the board are structured to highlight the implementation status of each of these plans, and how that is contributing to the achievement of the Strategy.

If your organisation would like to discuss ways of improving the implementation of your Strategy, please contact me on 0419 347 599 or garry.pearson@polgovpro.com.au

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