A strategy is a living thing, it needs to be constantly monitored and measured to ensure everything is on track. Periodically it should be revised, typically this would be once a year to fit in with a budget or pre-determined planning cycle. One of the major tasks is to check that everything is in place to enable informed decisions/changes. The operative word here is ‘informed’. It is easy to start all over again, throw everything away and build a brand new ‘innovative’ plan. The problem with this approach is all of the work done previously has been done by people who have invested time and energy. If their efforts are abandoned, the motivational consequences can be dire.
It is important to ensure that the ‘worth’ of previous work is acknowledged and where appropriate re-used. One way to do this is to undertake a Strategic Gap Analysis. A gap analysis is a relatively simple process that in the first instance identifies and lists items or actions that are essential to the overall activity. The items/actions are then categorised to see if they are current or not, this is usually done by asking the question: “Has this item/action been reviewed and how much work would be required to make it useful?” There would also be space for some level of commentary.
For a strategic plan, the output would look something like this: (download an editable version)
In the example above we can see that there is a lot of work to be done, it is a snapshot and a useful tool to show how much work is required to reach a baseline position. It does not precisely quantify the work, but it could be easily extended to provide this information.
A strategic gap analysis is an essential readiness tool. It should be used prior to any strategic planning session to determine if the strategic planning team are well enough prepared to make informed changes to a strategy.