The 11 Step Vision-Based Planning Process – Part 4

Part 4 –Vision-Based Planning – Key elements and the 11 Steps – The Strategic Plan Itself.

Once the Vision, Values and Mission have been synthesized from the creative, expansionary phase of the process, then the rest of the Steps can be rolled out in a much more logical, progressive way, starting with the Top-Level Goals.

Editor’s Note: See Christine’s entire Series HERE

Step 6: Develop Top-Level Strategic Goals

Top-Level Strategic Goals are those that define desired results that will enable the achievement of the organization’s or concept’s Vision and Mission. In our experience, there are usually between five and eight goals that, between them, cover all aspects of the organization and its business. If the organization has several divisions, there is sometimes a temptation to develop a major goal for each division. This temptation should be resisted, as it fosters stovepipes. Rather, the Top-Level Goals should relate to the overall organization’s Vision and Mission. If we are developing a future concept, then the goals need to define all the major areas that must be worked on for the achievement of the concept. Ideally, they should be quantitative, but on occasion they may be too broad; in that case, they can provide a sense of direction. That is acceptable at this stage, although when we get to the next step—Objectives—we must have Measures and Metrics.


Although it may seem obvious, when we develop a goal or objective, we need to think through very carefully what exactly we are expecting the outcome of its achievement to be, what it will do for us, and what it will take to reach it. Very often, people confuse outcome with output, or even with performance, which can lead to misunderstandings. An outcome must be stated positively (we want to accomplish something, some result, or consequence), and it must be doable (no negative words or concepts, like avoiding or minimizing).

In subsequent Steps, we then develop strategies to achieve the objective or goal, which include assigning responsibilities and developing a timeline by which it must be achieved. Of course, part of the strategy includes ensuring that the necessary resources will be available. It can also be useful to ask such questions as, what will and won’t happen if we don’t achieve the outcome?


            Clarification of Critical Terms
Outputs are generally physical things—products or information—that are produced or manufactured. So, for instance, the output from an advertising agency might be magazine ads or videos.
Outcomes are end results or consequences. The outcomes from the same advertising agency are the numbers of people (or increases in numbers) who buy the products because of the advertising.


Measures and Metrics

There are different definitions of Measure and Metric. We are using the most commonly accepted definitions. And we should note that you can have Measures and Metrics of both effectiveness (how well we are achieving an outcome) and performance (how well the process/system is performing)—you need both and should not confuse the two

A Measure generally has an element of human judgment. It is generally about the what that is to be measured.

A Metric is an indicator or value that can be observed singly or collectively (e.g., time, length of turn, speed, distance, and other countable events). Metrics are directly measurable and generally form the answers related to the how and how well of outcome achievement or system performance.

Following are examples of Measures and Metrics:

Measure: Task completion time.
Metrics: Start and end time.
Measure: Effectiveness of communication.
Metric: Yes response.
Measure: Efficiency.
Metrics: Time, user ratings, tool usage, measures of system breakdown.
Measure: Customer satisfaction.
Metrics: Number of complaints, number of product returns, ratings in consumer satisfaction survey.

Step 7: Develop Objectives to Achieve Each Top-Level Goal

Depending on the number of Top-Level Goals and the number of participants, we may conduct this step in one or two rounds, as we need four to five people to work on each goal. We place the flip charts with each goal around the room, and ask the participants to “vote with their feet,” by walking to the goal they want to work on. We recommend they go to a goal about which they feel passionately and also about which they know something.



Christine MacNulty
Christine MacNulty
CHRISTINE MacNulty has forty years’ experience as a consultant in long-term strategic -planning for concepts as well as organizations, futures studies, foresight, and technology forecasting, technology assessment and related areas, as well as socio-cultural change. For the last twenty years, most of her consultancy has been conducted for the Department of Defense and the Services, NATO ACT, NATO NEC, the British Army’s Force Development & Training Command, and the German BBK. Prior to that her work was in the commercial arena where she had Fortune Global 500 clients. During the last thirty-five years Christine MacNulty has contributed methods and models for understanding social and cultural change through people’s values. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1989. She is the coauthor of two books: Industrial Applications of Technology Forecasting, Wiley, 1971 and Strategy with Passion – A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016. Her paper: “Method for minimizing the negative consequences of nth order effects in strategic communication actions and inactions” was published in NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal, p 99, Winter 2015. Two monographs “Truth, Perception & Consequences” (2007) and “Transformation: From the Outside In or the Inside Out” (2008) were published by the Army War College. Perceptions, Values & Motivations in Cyberspace appeared in the IO Journal, 3rd Quarter, 2009, and The Value of Values for IO, SC & Intel was published in the August 2010 edition of the IO Journal.

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