Bryson. chapter 7. formulating and adopting strategies and plans
Bryson Chapter 7
Formulating and Adopting Strategies
and Plans to Manage the Issues
This chapter covers steps 6 and 7, formulating and
adopting strategies and plans. Even though these two
steps are likely to be closely linked in practice, they
should be kept separate in planning team members’ minds.
While both concern creating ideas for strategic action and
building a winning coalition, the dynamics that surround
each step may be dramatically different. Strategy
formulation often involves freewheeling creativity and the
give and take of dialogue whereas formal adoption of
strategies and strategic plans can involve tough bargaining
and high drama.
Strategy may be thought of as a pattern of purposes,
policies, programs, actions, decisions, and resource
allocations that defines what an organization is, what it
does, and why it does it.
Strategies typically are developed to deal with strategic
issues: that is, they outline the organization’s response to
the fundamental challenges it faces.
Strategies can vary by level and time frame. Four
basic levels of strategy follows:
1. Grand strategy for the organization as a whole
2. Subunit strategies ( subunits may be divisions,
departments, or units of larger organizations)
3. Program, services, or business process strategies
4. Functional strategies ( such as financial, staffing,
facilities, information technology, and procurement
Strategies may also be long term or short term
Strategies are different from tactics. Tactics are
the short-term, adoptive actions and reactions used
to accomplish limited objectives. Strategies
provide the continuing basis for ordering these
adaptations toward more braodly conceived
Step 6: Strategy formulation and plan development- to
create a set of strategies that will effectively link the
organization to its environment and create public
Step 7: Strategy and plan adoption- to gain
authoritative decisions to move ahead with
implementing the strategies and plans
1. If the organization has chosen the direct or indirect
approach to defining issues, the first outcome may
be a statement of how it will deal with each issues
2. The strategic planning team and key decision
makers should gain clarity about what parts of the
current strategies should be kept and improved,
what will be initated that is new, and what should
3. The organization may or may not wish to
have a formal strategic plan at the end of
step 6, one that will be formally adopted in
step 7 ( Note: For this class, assume the
organization wishes to have a formal
strategic plan at the end of step 6)
4. Planners may seek formal agreement to
push ahead at the conclusion of step 6
5. If a formal strategic plan has been
prepared, policy board adoption of the
6. As is true throughout the process, actions
should be taken when they are identified and
become useful or necessary
1. A fairly clear picture will emerge- from grand
conception to many implementation details- of how
the organization can create public value, meet its
mandates, fulfill its mission, and deal effectively
with the situation it faces.
2. This new picture should have emerged fram a
consideration of a broad range of alternative
strategies, a process that in itself should enhance
3. If actions are taken as they become identified and
useful, a new reality will emerge in fact, not just in
4. Early implementation of at least parts of major
strategies will facilitate organizational learning
5. Emotional bonding to the new reality can occur as
the new reality emerges gradually through early
and ongoing implementation efforts.
6. Organizational members will get help with working their way
through the failure-in-the-middle syndrome.
7. Heightened morale among strategic planning team members , key
decision makers, and other organizational members should result
from task accomplishment and early success in the resolution of
8. Further strategic planning team development ( and indeed
broader organizational development) should result from the
continued discipline of addressing fundamental questions
9. If key internal and external stakeholders interests have been
addressed successfully as part of the strategic planning process, a
coalition is likely to emerge that is large enough and strong
enough to agree on organizational strategies pursue their
10. The organizational members will have the permission they need
to move ahead with implementation of strategies.
If all these benefits are realized, the organization will have
achieved progress in an effective and artful way.
Two Approaches to Strategy Development: The Five-Part Process
and The Oval Mapping Process
A. The Five-Part Process
Planners answer five questions about each strategic issue:
1. What are the practical alternatives, dreams, or visions we
might pursue to address this strategic issue, achieve this goal, or
realize this idealized scenario?
2. What are the barriers to the realization of these alternatives,
dreams, or idealized scenarios?
3. What major proposals might we pursue to achieve these
alternatives, dreams, or idealized scenarios directly or to
overcome the barriers to their realization?
4. What major actions ( with existing staff working within
existing job descriptions) must be taken within the next year
( or two) to implement the major proposals?
5. What specific steps must be taken within the next six months
to implement the major proposals, and who is responsible for
A strategic planning team can use the snow card technique to answer
B. The Oval Mapping Process
Based on the strategic options development and
analysis (SODA). It involves creating options
(phrased as actions) to address each issue. See
Resource B , in the text, for detailed instructions
in the use of the oval mapping process.
Strategic Plans- Strategic plans can vary a great
deal in their form and content. Coordinated
action among a variety of organizational actors
over time usually requires some kind of
reasonable formal plan so that people can keep
track of what they should do and why. See page
208 of the text for a table of contents for a plan
and the headings that might be included.
1. Remember that strategic thinking, acting, and
learning are more important than any particular
approach to strategy formulation or the
development of a formal strategic plan.
2. Consider a variety of creative, even radical options
during the strategy formulation process.
3. Remember that logical incrementalism can be very
effective, but sometimes a big win is the way to go.
4. Be aware that effective strategy formulation can be
tops-down or bottoms-up.
5. Decide how to link strategy development with the
strategic issues identified in step 6.
6. Describe strategic alternatives in enough detail to
permit reasonable judgments about their efficacy
and provide reasonable guidance for
7. Evaluate alternative strategies against agreed-upon
criteria prior to selection of specific strategies to be
8. Consider development of a formal strategic plan.
9. Even if a formal strategic plan is not prepared,
consider preparing a set of interrelated strategy
statements describing the grand strategy; subunit
strategies; program, service, product, or business
process strategies; and financial strategies.
10. Use a normative process to review strategy
statements and formal strategic plans.
11. Discuss and evaluate strategies in relation to key
12. Have budgets and budgeting procedures in place to
capitalize on strategic planning and strategic plans.
13. Be aware that the strategy formulation step is likely
to proceed in a more iterative fashion than previous
steps because of the need to find the best fit among
elements of strategies, among different strategies,
and among levels of strategy.
14. Allow for a period of catharsis as the organization
moves from one way of being in the world to another.
15. Remember the completion of the strategy
development step is likely to be an important
16. Ensure that key decision makers and planners think
carefully about how the formal adoption process
should be managed , particularly if it involves
17. Provide some sense of closure to the strategic
planning process at the end of step 7 or, when no
formal plan is prepared, at the end of step 6.