Once the strategic information has been analysed and the strategy model has been created it is time to review and refine it. This review is especially important after the first pass of the analysis phase of the process as we must validate the results and make any amendments to the emerging strategy.
Once the basic structure of the business strategy has been approved by the strategy team, the process of reviewing the strategy model should continue to refine the details. At this point, we seek to create depth to the strategic plan by working on the ‘hows’ as well as the ‘whats’. In other words, where there is an outcome that is not supported by activities, we will seek to understand what steps need to be taken in order to achieve the desired outcome.
In addition, we use various tools and techniques, such as the SWOT analysis, to elicit more specific information that is pertinent to the development or implementation of the business strategy. Some of this information will emerge naturally from the process, including strengths but especially weaknesses (a quirk of the British culture). Every business has weaknesses – things that it needs to improve upon – so there is no sense in ignoring them or sweeping them under the carpet. We always turn weaknesses into activities designed to correct them although we prioritise them first so that we ensure that the focus is on areas that will have the greatest positive impact on the business.
The other important element of building a sustainable strategy is to firstly identify the strengths of the organisation and to then ensure that they are aligned with and support the business’ goals and objectives.
In summary, this phase the strategy group will refine, clarifying and expand upon the information that was generated during the information gathering phase. In addition, they will develop options and ideas regarding how they are going to attain their goals and objectives for the business. This will ultimately lead to a business plan with clear activities connected to outcomes and ultimately to attaining the business goals.