Is your organization “drowning” in too many strategic initiatives?

If you’re evaluating far more opportunities than your team can realistically handle, it’s time to do a serious screening of those initiatives.

According to Robert W. Bradford, President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, your organization should only take on between 3 – 10 strategic opportunities, depending on the size, breadth of your team and its resources. (We’ve found the fewer, the better.)

Bradford recommends a senior team exercise in which you simply ask the team to rate each opportunity on two dimensions – resource requirements and strategic impact on the organization.

  • For resource requirements, you may want to anchor the rating on a one to five scale. In a medium sized company, a one might indicate resources commensurate with an individual employee’s initiative – requiring little management of either manpower or money. A two could correspond with departmental level resources, a three with two or more departments, and a five would indicate a need for co-ordination of resources across the entire company.
  • For strategic impact, we used one for “nice to do”, three for “important” and five for “critical to our future”. Note that we do NOT rate on a purely financial basis, and in practice, opportunities with a strictly financial payoff were generally given a three impact rating – that is, a simple boost to profit is not enough to earn an opportunity high marks on strategic impact.

BOTTOM LINE: “If your organization is plagued by a surplus of incremental projects or “just do it” items that are overwhelming mid-level management, this approach to opportunity screening may give you one more way to rationally say “no” to things that will impede your strategic progress.”