Writing a strategy document

Strategy documents need to outline two key things -- the objectives of the strategy, and the goals which are necessary to achieve these objectives.

Bob Lewis explained the difference between objectives and goals to me this way:

[An] objective [is] the point of it all, described from the perspective of business benefit. So if what's being proposed is a so-called CRM system (customer relationship management) the objective might be to increase revenue and decrease the cost of sales.

["Goals" are the] changes that will occur that will result in the benefits described as the objective. For the CRM effort, the goals might include designing a new sales process, selecting, configuring and implementing software that will support the process, developing and delivering a sales training program, and so on.

It's the difference between describing what will actually happen (goals) and what the business will achieve as a result (objective).

To help the manager evaluate the objectives and goals, most strategy documents are structured under seven sections:

  1. Background   OR   Why is this important?
  2. Objectives   OR   How does this help the organisation?
  3. Benefits   OR   What will happen when we get there?
  4. Principles   OR   How does this fit?
  5. Strategies   OR   How do we make sure this works?
  6. Responsibilities   OR   Judging the quality of our results
  7. Goals   OR   Where are we now? And where do we want to be?

NB: Objectives are sometimes referred to as the purpose of the strategy; Goals can also be known as [key] deliverables.

Documents can be structured in a variety of ways, for example:

    1. Background
    2. Purpose
    3. Benefits
    4. Principles
    5. Strategies
    6. Responsibilities
    7. Key Deliverables
    or
    2. What does the organisation want?
    1. Why is this important?
    3. What will happen when we get there?
    4. How does this fit? Principles to follow
    6. Judging the quality of our results
    5. What will we do to get there?
    7. Where are we now? And what needs to happen?

Original version published on 28 August 2007.

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