What Is a Strategy Map?
A strategy map is a professional tool that helps to clarify and communicate a company’s organizational goals and strategies. It is much like a strategic plan, only it is a more condensed visual representation of it.
According to an online article by LinkedIn, a traditional strategy map zeroes in on four key areas of business performance. These areas are known as perspectives. The four perspectives of a strategy map are financial, customer, internal business process and learning and growth.
Who Can Use Strategy Maps?
Strategy maps can have various uses. It can be used across most disciplines and sectors. From small enterprises to established conglomerates, a strategy map can easily be modified to suit any organization. The following examples describe some of the most common sectors where a strategy map would be useful.
Local Governments. A strategy map would be incredibly useful for any area that involves public service and governance. Local governments are tasked with a range of responsibilities and are answerable to the people they serve. Whether it is on a community level or a federal level, state authorities are expected to come up with initiatives and strategies that will benefit all their constituents. For instance, a strategy map that describes the delivery of basic services to the public would be one such example. Not only should the map indicate ways and means of executing the basic services, but should also include initiatives on how to improve the delivery of these services. Basically anything that the public sector is expected to fulfill, such as budget appropriation or infrastructure improvement, can be plotted in a strategy map. Small Businesses. Micro, small, and medium enterprises would greatly benefit from the clarity and straightforwardness of a strategy map. Operating a business, especially if it is still growing, is relatively more challenging. For startups and small businesses, a business plan or action plan may not be enough. A corporate strategy map or strategic plan would also be needed to address operational intricacies and long-term objectives of the business. With a strategy map, there is a chronological and associative dimension that is typically absent in business plans or action plans. Plus, a strategy map is highly versatile. Anything from customer relations to financial forecasts can be incorporated in a small business strategy map. Internal Departments. A traditional organization is composed of various departments, each fulfilling their own duties and responsibilities. Systems and processes can be further simplified with the use of a strategy map. Whether it is a finance and accounting department, human resources office or an operations team, a strategy map can promote clarity and direction when it comes to internal processes and goals. But it is also crucial to note that with a complex hierarchy that’s present in many organizations, it can be easy for different departments to remain singularly focused on their own internal affairs and be totally removed from other departments. Every department could have a map of their own, but it is also important that their goals and strategies connect to the larger whole. Non-profit Organizations. Just like corporate structures, non-government organizations or nonprofit groups also subscribe to a certain hierarchy. Along with a systematic hierarchy, internal processes and procedures also govern their daily operations. By employing the use of a strategy map, all goals and plans for improvement can be consolidated in a single page. But more importantly, a map establishes correlations between the seemingly unrelated plans and strategies. It promotes organization and coherence. For example, a nonprofit organization usually involves several stakeholders such as partners, beneficiaries, and patrons. How these stakeholders intersect and influence the strategies of the organization can be intentionally plotted in a strategy map.
Tips For Creating a Strategy Map
A strategy map may come in different shapes and forms; it also greatly depends on the needs of the organization. Each field or industry is different and a strategy map would need to be modified to suit each particular industry. However, the following examples are just some general tips on how to come up with an effective strategy map, regardless of field.
Use PowerPoint. Obviously, you can use any application you prefer when creating a strategy map. But Microsoft PowerPoint is both practical and easy to use. So even total beginners can get the hang of it pretty quickly. PowerPoint is designed to help people create presentations, flow charts or roadmaps. Practically any Microsoft Office application can be utilized to create a basic strategy map. If you are more comfortable using MS Word, by all means do so. But with PowerPoint, it is relatively easier to navigate especially in terms of structures and shapes. You don’t only want your strategy map to be informative and instructional, but also visually attractive and eye-catching. Microsoft PowerPoint has a number of tools specifically to enhance visuals and presentation. Plus, a PowerPoint slide will make a good roadmap. Brainstorm with your team. Whatever your goals or objectives are for your strategy map, it is important to seek input from all stakeholders. A strategy map has no use for a single or one-sided objective. Teams and organizations use strategy maps precisely to align different strategies to meet a common goal. So it is important to exert effort and make time for collaboration and consultation. Whether it is through regular alignment meetings or strategic planning sessions, the key is promoting teamwork and active participation. For instance, a department may find the need to plot a strategy map to cascade to members of their team or to other departments. In order to create a broad yet inclusive strategy, a department head should make it a point to sit down and discuss with the whole department and brainstorm as a team. Ensure it is action-based. An important thing to remember when plotting a strategy map is to use active voice or action-based language. Unlike a regular strategic plan, the format of a map is similar to that of a flow chart. There are no paragraphs or blocks of texts in a strategy map, only phrases and a limited number of words. Thus, it is important to still convey the message clearly and directly. This can be achieved by making sure the language used is descriptive and concrete. Using action-based words to describe strategies and plans promotes imagination and highlights initiative. Of course, using action words must be accompanied by sound and rational thought. You have to establish a consistent correlation of ideas and maintain a logical flow of thought throughout the map.
How to Create a Strategy Map
To create a strategy map, you need to first determine what kind of strategic map you are plotting. Content would highly depend on the type of map. Whether it is a small business strategy map or a marketing strategy map, you can save a lot of time by using a ready-made template. Simply browse the selection above, select a sample template and follow the basic steps below.
Step 1: Decide on a Format
The great thing about a strategy map is that it is both versatile and practical. It allows you to get creative while still retaining functionality. Before you start brainstorming the contents of your strategy map, you need to determine the format or structure of the map. This can vary depending on the logical flow of your ideas and plans. It helps to create a narrative or to craft a story by using the map itself. A strategy map’s basic goal is to create associations and establish cause-effect links. When deciding on a format, the main thing to keep in mind is incorporating a format that is organized and enables you to tell a clear and logical story.
Step 2: State Your Mission and Vision
After deciding on a format, come up with a mission and vision statement. This will set the stage for your strategy map. Usually, a company or organization already has a mission statement and vision statement contained in their organizational plan or business plan. This must be reiterated in your strategy map. It is important to remind team members of the main purpose of why a strategy map is needed in the first place. Essentially, any strategic plans for improvement and development is supposed to reflect the mission and vision of the organization. They are intrinsically linked and therefore, cannot be separated from the other.
Step 3: Identify Core Values
Aside from the mission and vision statements, another key aspect of a strategy map is identifying core values. Any organization should be guided by its core values. Whether it is innovation, excellence, empowerment, or diversity, these should be incorporated within a strategy map. For example, a strategy map may serve as a guide for systems and processes but behind all these is a core value that influences strategic planning and decision-making. You cannot formulate effective strategies and plans without first determining the principles that drive the company.
Step 4: Establish Links
Once you have a format or structure in place, proceed to plot the different plans and objectives in your strategy map. A key characteristic of a strategy map is that it establishes links that connect various ideas and goals. Thus, it is important to highlight or emphasize the correlation between points. This can only be achieved if there is a logical flow of ideas. One tip is to arrange your strategy map in such a way that there is a rational transition from one point to the next. If you are unsure how to go about this, refer to any of the sample templates above. The collection above features a number of predesigned strategy maps designed for your use.
What is meant by strategic mapping?
Strategic mapping involves describing and explaining the objectives, processes and strategies of an organization using graphics similar to that of a mind map or flowchart.
What is a strategy mapping process?
The strategy mapping process describes the correlation and association between various strategic objectives of a company or organization.
What is the importance of a strategy map?
A strategy map is an effective tool in communicating an organization’s strategic objectives and goals. Since it is a map, the visuals and graphics may even help improve comprehension and understanding.
A strategy map can be an efficient way of communicating organizational objectives and strategies if it is done correctly. As much as possible, you want a detailed map that paints a clear picture of your strategic objectives. Browse the sample templates above and start customizing your own map today!