How to Create a Strategic Road Map

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Regardless of the size of an organization, its employees need a concrete way to understand where they're headed. A strategic road map is a document that helps people visualize how their actions will support the organization's mission and help it achieve long-term objectives. This road map may go through many drafts in response to changing business conditions.

Choosing Stages

A road map represents the organization's core business strategy -- a set of primary objectives everyone will support. Before creating a map with details, determine the major stages of the map. The organization will need to move from point A to point E -- the end stage -- through a series of actions. Each stage helps organize the appropriate set of actions. One way is to use a series of verbs, such as Illustrate, Translate, Indicate, Dedicate and Operate.

Tackling the First Stage

The first stage of a road map is where policy makers think broadly about where the company should be headed between one year and 10 years. Employees may assist managers by conducting research on what similar organizations are doing and have done in the past to achieve their core objectives in the same industry. Core objectives aim to deliver what is most valuable to customers. However, at this stage in mapmaking, debate will continue about appropriate core objectives, and they will be refined in the later stages of mapping.

Completing the Middle Stages

Writing the middle stages of the road map requires examining the organization at every level. Consider every business process, department and resource and how it might be aligned with the major actions in the implementation of the business strategy. The road map will specifically state these major actions and how they will lead to implementation of the organization's core business objectives. These stages will also state how management will measure unit-level and employee-level performance to see if objectives and smaller milestones are being achieved.

Moving From Present to Future

An organization must ask many tough questions during the development of a strategic road map. One way to guide the collection of ideas and begin formulating the steps in a strategy is to define the current state of the business and the desired end state. Then ask how the organization can move effectively to that end using its available resources. Maintaining a focus on the end state maintains the continuity of the road map from start to finish, thereby helping decision makers discard or archive ideas, information and business methodologies that don't contribute to the end state. The end stage of the road map is final implementation of the organization's core business objectives.