Strategic modeling, by nature, is a future-oriented enterprise and is an important part of shaping the future of business ecosystems and establishing your organization in a unique position within markets. Creating a strategic plan will also orient organizational operations toward larger strategic objectives and provide a framework for daily prioritization of tasks and decisions.

Strategic theories and processes have been applied to strategic planning in a variety of ways. Below are a few models for strategic planning. Appropriate methods for strategic planning will fluctuate across organizations based on services offered, size, and resources available within the organization. These models offer hypothetical ideas and may need to be adjusted to work for each specific organization. Many of the ideas presented in the models here can be used simultaneously to create an overall effective method for strategic planning.

Although studying theories of strategic processes can be helpful, rigidly adhering to a specific model often results in strategic planning in a vacuum. For all the time spent creating a comprehensive strategic plan and all its elements, if the plan cannot be implemented and adjusted to create real value within an organization and markets, it is ultimately useless. When developing and adjusting strategy within an organization, it is often beneficial to borrow from multiple models in order to develop methods that best fit your organization. You need to develop a flexible skeleton of a plan based on the aspects of existing models that most suit your organization. Every organization’s strategic plan is likely to be different, and it should be easily adjusted to respond to changes and the unexpected.

Vision-Based or Goals-Based Planning Model

This type of strategic planning is based on a designed mission and vision for an organization. The mission addresses the basic purpose of the organization and often outlines client needs that the organization intends to meet and the services that the organization provides. The vision statement describes the future of the organization. The writing and implementation of a strategic plan in this model is designed around the mission and vision of the organization and identifies goals and actions needed to move the organization toward, and continuously keep it in line with, its mission and vision. This type of planning is most effective in start-ups and organizations that have a wide range of resources and time for strategic planning.

Issues-Based Planning Model

Issues-based strategic planning focuses on immediate, major issues facing an organization. This model begins with identifying the most immediate issues facing the organization. Brainstorming and planning centers around objectives and actions needed to address these issues. This type of planning is most effective in organizations that have limited resources for strategic planning.

Alignment Model

The alignment model is used mostly in organizations that need to fine-tune their strategies and is more of a maintenance tool than an overhaul of strategy. This model involves outlining an organization’s mission, programs, resources, and needed support and then identifying what is working and what needs to be adjusted and implementing the adjustments as strategic goals.

Scenario Planning Model

Scenario planning involves assessing the future consequences of strategy. This model is implemented by imagining worst-case, best-case, and reasonable-case scenarios of future changes that may affect the organization. This model relies heavily on assessing trends and patterns within the organization and in market forces acting upon the organization to discern possible future courses of action. Strategy implementation includes coming up with the most efficient way that the organization can respond to predicted changes. This model works in conjunction with other models and needs a substantial amount of data input.

Organic (or Self-Organizing) Planning Model

Self-organizing planning is a more naturalistic approach to strategic planning than previous linear approaches of outlining goals and implementing actions to reach them. Self-planning is a process of dialoguing around the organization’s common values and utilizing continued reflection on the effectiveness of system processes as they apply to these common values. This model is a learning process and relies heavily on open communication and continuous feedback within an organization. This method focuses more on learning and less on method.

Real-Time Planning Model

Real-time planning asserts that long-range planning in rapidly changing markets is outdated and that best decisions and changes happen in real time. After initial discussions to clarify missions and values, this type of model requires continuous communication and quick decisions based on the ability to assess constantly changing information and forces. Real-time planning has become more popular in modern strategic theory and is often pushed as the main method by which organizations can keep up in increasingly competitive markets. The development and practice of strategic thinking skills are imperative for analysts and workers to function in real-time planning.

Final Analysis

The overall framework for linking these strategy concepts to the more technical work of system solutions is a difficult one. In many ways, just knowing they exist, and being familiar with the different models is helpful.

Understanding TSoT and all its various nuances does not happen overnight. There are many layers here, and each one deserves a lot of study and a lot of thought. However, TSoT offers a comprehensive framework, and a deep toolset for performing analysis, and linking that analysis in an objective way to broader goals and strategies.

Formulation of an IFR or BPS is difficult and requires disruptive thinking. The correct formulation of IFRs is so important, and can be so difficult, that you must set aside conventional thinking and define an IFR in a way that stretches your approach and pushes your system forward. The processes of technological innovation and disruptive-thinking techniques have always been linked. Technology markets have been important to the development of disruptive methods because at the time of their initial introduction as a consumer product, there was very little foundation for technological innovations, and the value systems for these advances had to be established within a very short time period.

Using TSoT solutioning is going to bring some disruptions into your environment. Historically, the organizational analysis activities were rather passive; now they can become disruptive as they force dialog around the IFR and BPS, which identifies very early in the process where people stand and what different visions they have for a supersystem.

Do not associate a negative context to the term disruption; disruption is a good thing, provided it is considered early in the system life cycle and takes into account its impact on people. The possibilities that exist concerning analysis are near limitless; typical systems and projects consume vast amounts of resources. Use TSoT to create solutions that leverage the endeavors.

Do not fear disruption; use it to create better systems and develop thinking outside of specific processes, specific industries, and specific historical ways of performing actions. The intention is to produce uncomfortable thinking designed to produce new viewpoints and ideas that consolidate into IFRs and BPSs that allow for competitive advantage. Remember that the purpose of a team system is to convert material inputs into more valuable material outputs.

The process of disruptive thinking is a skill that can be honed using the TSoT solution algorithms, but it has its basis in the creative processes. The generation of disruptive ideas requires the ability to look at information without taking it through your existing mental filters. This begins by imagining how the world could be different and considering what is not obvious in order to come up with ideas that are unexpected, unusual, or even near impossible. The reality of modern markets and real-world constraints should be introduced later, not considered as a basis for the generation of disruptive ideas.

The development of disruptive thinking as a skill will assist you in continually creating environments, processes, products, and services that do not exist in a current market, that are difficult for competitors to imitate in the short term, and that are highly unlikely for competitors to introduce at the same time by chance. Two firms producing similar services or goods for the same market are responding to many of the same market pressures and social changes. If they both also follow highly conventional processes, it is likely their “innovations” will often be similar, allowing neither to stand out.