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Guide to Strategic Planning: Part 3 – Defining Strategic Imperatives

Unlocking Strategic Success: The Role of Strategic Imperatives

Strategic imperatives are the cornerstone of any robust strategic plan, acting as the fulcrum around which all strategic efforts pivot. Identifying these imperatives is not just a step in the strategic planning process; it’s the very heart of it, providing the clarity needed to focus on what truly matters for your business.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Seesaw of Strategic Planning

Imagine strategic planning as a seesaw, with your vision, mission, and purpose on one end and the key jobs that need to be done to realise that vision on the other. Strategic imperatives are the pivot point—the fulcrum—of this seesaw. They represent the critical tasks and initiatives that, if executed, will naturally unlock significant value and propel your business towards its goals.

Identifying Strategic Imperatives: Best Practices

  1. External and Internal Assessments: Utilise tools like PESTEL analysis for an external viewpoint or SWOT analysis to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This holistic perspective helps float strategic imperatives to the surface.
  2. Capabilities Gap Analysis: Identify the essential capabilities your business needs to achieve its vision but currently lacks. This gap analysis highlights areas for development that are imperative for strategic success.
  3. Synthesising Insights: Rather than transcribing every output of your analyses into a to-do list, aim to distil them into a concise set of four to six strategic imperatives. These should be the transformative tasks that will drive the most significant impact.

The Power of Clarity

With a clear set of strategic imperatives, your business gains razor-sharp focus on what needs to be accomplished. This clarity enables you to direct resources and efforts towards these pivotal areas effectively, ensuring that every action taken is aligned with your strategic goals.

Starting with Sophistication

Strategic imperatives can begin at any level of sophistication. Often, business owners instinctively know the key tasks for the year. However, the challenge lies in elevating this understanding from immediate, known issues to a broader, opportunity-centric view that unlocks growth and transformation.

Beyond the Imperatives: Implementation

Once your strategic imperatives are defined, the planning process shifts to implementation: who will do it, how it will be done, and when. Understanding your strategic imperatives simplifies these subsequent steps, making the path to achieving your goals clearer and more straightforward.

Conclusion: The Fulcrum of Strategic Planning

By centring your strategic planning around identifying strategic imperatives, you position your business to navigate the next three to five years with confidence and purpose. This approach simplifies the strategic planning process and ensures that every effort is aligned with your ultimate vision for success.

Join the Conversation

Board Associates is committed to education and fostering a dialogue around strategic planning so we invite you to join us in this conversation. Monthly, from February to April, we will host a lunch & learn session dedicated to discussing strategic planning in an informal setting. This is an opportunity to delve deeper into strategic planning, ask questions, and share insights with peers. If you’d like to participate, you can register for one of the upcoming lunch & learn sessions here:

Transformation: The Board’s Missing Agenda Item

Yet another corporate collapse brings into sharp relief an issue which seems to be missing from the agenda in Boardrooms around Australia: Stewardship of Transformation.

Disruptive consumer and competitive trends are not new and yet many fail to respond. I wonder then, how active this discussion is in the Boardroom?  In my view there is a clear imperative to “re-tool” our organisations for the business models of the future. It is fundamental to the sustainability of our organisations and to our duty as Directors.

 there is a clear imperative to “re-tool” our organisations

But what to do about it… I’d like to offer my own perspectives and “questions for the Board” as follows:

  1. Board Composition: is there sufficient cognitive diversity on the Board? Are there skills & experience in innovation and new business models (not just IT)?
  2. Market Sensing: Is the voice of the customer present at Board meetings (beyond NPS and satisfaction surveys). How are we detecting, reporting and responding to emerging trends?
  3. Strategy Development: How are we leading or responding to disruption? Are we looking at ways to disrupt ourselves? Are we planning for transformation or resting on the laurels of past success?
  4. Resource Allocation: Have we provided the means to foster innovation & experimentation? Have we invested sufficiently in our future selves?

In my view, the transformation imperative is clear and so to is the Board’s responsibility for the stewardship of that transformation. The challenge is that the skills to transform don’t reside in the traditional roles of marketing, HR or IT.  Instead, new disciplines such as human centred design, lean and design thinking have emerged to confront this challenge; but few organisations have them and they certainly aren’t represented in the Boardroom.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-18/menswear-chain-roger-david-enters-administration-jobs-at-risk/10390760