They all come from seeing strategy as a system of 8 choices of action rather than as a collection of mystifying vocabulary.
One: Understand current strategy
Make sure there is a common understanding of the current strategies of your strategic plan.
Only when you really understand current strategy are you able to understand what challenges the organization faces and the implications of changes to current strategy.
8 strategies are common to all organizations, whether they are for-profit or nonprofit. The board and the management team must have a common understanding of what those strategies are today (as opposed to what you want them to be) if they are to make an informed decision on changing strategy. See: Strategic Planning: Where's the Beef?
The Eight Strategies Common to Every Organization
Business Definition (called Mandate in nonprofits): What the organization does. This strategy is also known as the “mission” statement although too many mission statements make the mistake of going way beyond a simple description of what the organization does.
Financial Management: How the organization sources capital and manages its finances.
Risk: How the organization identifies and manages those events, which if they occurred, would be unacceptable
Marketing/Sales (called “communications” in many nonprofits): How the organization identifies and captures customers/users/clients
Growth: How the organization is getting bigger, smaller, or trying to stay the same size
Organization Management: How the organization is designed and managed
R&D/Technology: How the organization develops and/or uses technology
Service Delivery / Manufacturing / Production: How the organization fulfills the marketing/sale or communications promise of value delivery
Two: Understand current strategy configuration
You need to understand how the strategy system is currently configured in your organization.
There are 3 types of strategy (choices of action) common to every organization.
One strategy is always the dominant strategy, the Alpha, leading the other seven. Three strategies are Influencers because they are the strategies that most constrain and guide implementation of the Alpha and the remaining four strategies, called the Enablers.
You need to understand this configuration for a number of reasons but most importantly because dominant strategy, the Alpha, is very well entrenched in all organizations and reflects the dominant culture.
Not understanding dominant strategy can result in not understanding the organization. For example, not all universities have R&D as their dominant strategy. Many have Service Delivery while others are focused on Growth. The culture is very different within each because of this choice of priority.
For more on strategy and its configuration, see Drag'n'Drop Strategy: A Dynamic Model
Three: Test strategy changes for impact on the strategy system
A strategic plan is characterized by its focus on just one of the eight strategies as the catalyst for change over the planning period. This focus will impact all of the other seven strategies over the course of the implementation period.
Therefore, it is imperative to understand how the proposed change of one strategy is likely to impact the other seven.
For example, the decision by many banks to focus on the growth strategy in the period prior to the 2008 financial meltdown lead to a disastrous loss of control over the Financial Management and Risk strategies at those banks.
Bank management and boards were not looking at strategy as a system and therefore never saw the impact that a focus on growth was having on their dominant strategy of Financial Management or its key Influencer, Risk.
Conclusion: See strategy as a system to improve your planning
Strategy is a system; however, not enough board members and management teams see it that way.
Seeing strategy as a system enables a much richer understanding of how strategy actually works in your business or nonprofit and how change will likely impact current strategy.
For more on seeing strategy as a system, see The Alpha Strategies, Understanding Strategy, Risk, and Values in Any Organization