The Strategic Planning Workbook
Chapter by Chapter Guide

Chapter 1 - Strategic Thinking

Most of the time we are not strategists. Most of the time we are trying to get through the week/month/quarter/next review point. So, we are good at viewing our organisations with a short term focus. We see problems more clearly than possibilities, we start to mix up low priority activities with those that are more important, we end up making decisions that are expedient today, at the cost of future benefits. It is only natural. In order to get the most out of a strategic process, we need to think like a strategist, and this chapter helps you to deliberately raise your gaze to take in the bigger picture.

This chapter covers:

  • How to think like a strategist
  • The four really big strategic questions
  • The four key tactical questions
  • The four true operational questions

Chapter 2 - The strategic context

This chapter shows you where to find the data you need, and provides you with templates so that you can present this information in way that makes it meaningful and easy to interpret. It is written assuming that you cannot give up your job and employ an army of researchers to help you, but rather use the kinds of data that are probably accessible right now or can be gathered reasonably easily.

The analyses covered are:

  • Customer analysis
  • Potential customer analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Hallmarks of success analysis
  • Environmental analysis
  • Barriers to entry analysis
  • Availability analysis
  • Stakeholder analysis

Chapter 3 - Understanding your business

When you walk into a room that is untidy for the first time you really notice how much stuff is out of place. If you go into that room every day for a year you get so used to it, that it doesn’t really seem messy at all. The same happens inside your business. You get so used to how it functions, that it is extremely difficult to get a detached view of where the gaps really exist, and what is causing them. This chapter provides you with processes to follow and templates to use that lay bare your business in a way that enables you to connect it with your best possible future and push performance to a higher level.

The analyses described are:

  • Culture analysis
  • Skills & talent analysis
  • Financial performance analysis
  • Process performance analysis (using a sub-optimisation framework)
  • Risk analysis
  • Resources vs outcomes analysis
  • Cause and effect analysis (the strategic version)
  • Relative scale analysis (benchmarking)
  • Absolute scale analysis (using a formal framework)
  • Change readiness analysis

Chapter 4 - Decision Making

This chapter describes the eight key decision making tools as they can be used in a strategic retreat. You learn what the tools do, how to use them with a group, and how to record the information so that it leads to insights. You also learn how to make weighty strategic decisions by using techniques that allow the right answers to ‘drop out of the bottom’ of a number of straightforward steps.

The CD-ROM in the back of the book is a 40 minute video of Neville using these techniques with a group. Reading the chapter and watching the video will put you in a position to run a successful event and make the right decisions.

The chapter - and CD-ROM - cover:

  • Scenario options analysis
  • Market future analysis
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Portfolio analysis
  • SWOT analysis
  • Concentration of effort analysis
  • The activity hedgehog
  • Movement analysis

Chapter 5 - Mission, Vision, Values & Measures

A well crafted mission, vision, and set of values should answer the questions “Why are we here?”, “Where are we going?” and “How do we go about doing our work?”. A comprehensive set of measures then confirms that those three questions have been properly answered.

This chapter provides practical definition and examples of three statements, and shows how each contributes to success. It also provides a framework for designing an integrated set of measures. Furthermore, this chapter provides a process for developing these statements with a group of managers, and developing/confirming a measurement framework in record time.

The chapter covers:

  • The mission statement
  • The vision statement
  • The values statement
  • Confirming the mission statement
  • Creating the vision statement
  • Crafting the values statement
  • Developing measures under the headings ‘processes’, ‘people’, ‘customers’ and ‘finances’
  • Developing measures at the organisation wide, divisional, unit and management/supervisory levels

Chapter 6 - Action Planning

This chapter is about translating ideas into actions. The two areas covered in this chapter are ‘uniting themes’ and ‘the action workshop’. Unifying themes shows you how to convert a lot of complex decisions made by a few people into a message that can be understood by all. This chapter tells you how you can find these unifying themes and how to choose the right one.

The chapter covers four key generic strategies:

  • cost versus differentiation
  • customer driven
  • competitor driven
  • internal process driven

The action workshop takes place once the decisions are made and draws together all the information that has been discussed in the previous chapters.

The three areas covered in the workshop are:

  • the uniting theme
  • the change programme
  • a final check that everything is in place (force field analysis)

This chapter consolidates a lot of the information discussed in the other chapters and has lots of practical examples to help you.

Chapter 7 - Putting it in Writing

You want your strategic plan to be read and understood by everyone in the organisation. You can not bore everyone into being enthusiastic, and you should not share the amount and types of information with each audience. There is a way to get a message across and this chapter provides information and examples of the different documents you need to write for different audiences.

These audiences are:

  • the ‘strategic file’
  • senior management
  • middle management
  • the front line

This chapter shows you how to get your message across not only in writing but also talking it through, face to face. It gives detailed descriptions of presentations that use a mixture of facts, stories and humour to show how enthusiasm can be generated throughout your organisation.

Chapter 8 - Implementation

This chapter describes in more detail the eight key ingredients that are needed to support change and deliver your strategic plan.

These are:

  • a strong mandate
  • a strong purpose
  • preparation
  • the right people
  • the right action plan
  • early wins
  • communication
  • lock-in

Chapter 9 - Tricks and Traps

This chapter helps you to stay on track during the strategic planning process. It describes some of the tricks you can use and the traps that you can avoid.

These are:

  • Tricks:
    • keeping perspective
    • keeping a grasp on reality
    • seeing the world through other’s eyes
  • Traps:
    • finding the solution too soon
    • following conventional thinking
    • not focusing on outcomes


The appendices summarise the key tools that have been described in the earlier chapters of the book and they have been presented as fifteen worksheets.

These are:

  • Worksheet 1: Draft Agenda for the Decision Making Workshop
  • Worksheet 2: Draft Agenda for the Mission, Vision and Values Workshop and the Measures Workshop
  • Worksheet 3: Draft Agenda for the Action Workshop
  • Worksheet 4: The Sub Optimisation Analysis
  • Worksheet 5: Tables
  • Worksheet 6: Hallmarks of Success Analysis
  • Worksheet 7: The Fear/Freedom Culture Analysis
  • Worksheet 8: Resources Versus Outcomes Analysis
  • Worksheet 9: Market Future Analysis
  • Worksheet 10: Life Cycle Analysis
  • Worksheet 11: Portfolio Analysis
  • Worksheet 12: The Activity Hedgehog
  • Worksheet 13: The Path of Least Resistance Quadrant
  • Worksheet 14: The Change Preparation Flow Chart
  • Worksheet 15: The Force Field Analysis