Time To Conduct A Strategy Review? Here’s How To Get Started

Four steps to help you identify and correctly approach any strategic shifts that have taken place in your organization.

Director & Rochesterian


Has your organization undergone a strategic shift this year? This could be anything from a technology advancement in your market, to a new political regulation, new competition, or just a major change in revenue (either positive or negative).

The issue is that many organizations don’t consider how these types of changes affect their strategic plan—or if they do consider them, they simply don’t know how to make the appropriate strategic changes to accommodate this shift.

What is a Strategy Review?

A strategy review is the process in which organizations discuss the progress of their goals and objectives and make the necessary adjustments for the upcoming year. We’ve found that the best time by far to consider adjusting your strategic plan—and ensure the changes are reflected in your strategy for the upcoming year—is during the end-of-year strategy review process. In this article, we’ve outlined four steps that will help you identify and approach these changes in a productive way, to ensure everyone in your organization is working toward the same goal.

In this article, we’ve outlined four steps that will help you identify and approach these changes in a productive way, to ensure everyone in your organization is working toward the same goal. Click To Tweet

Step 1: Review The “Big Picture”

The first thing you need to do during your strategy review process is step back and look at each element of your strategic plan. We always suggest asking the question, “Is our big-picture strategy still valid?” This is important—and frankly, it’s often overlooked. If where your organization stands has changed over the last year (or over the last several years), that will dramatically impact all of the elements that make up your strategic plan—from your mission, vision, and values, all the way down to your objectives, measures, and initiatives.

Therefore, we suggest you take the time to look at your strategic landscape to see if there has been a disruption (as it pertains to technology, politics, the environment, etc.). You could find, for example, that a new competitor has entered your industry and is changing the pricing model for the entire market.

Step 2: Review Details Of The Plan Itself

Strategic plan details include your objectives, measures, and initiatives. Here’s how to review each:

Objectives are your high-level organizational goals. During your strategy review process, you’ll need to ask, “Are our objectives still relevant? Do they relate back to our mission, vision, and values?” Your answer needs to be made with actual data, not your gut feelings.

If you’ve been using the same strategic plan for a while, it’s time for a refresh. This strategy review template gives you everything you need to conduct this strategic review.

Measures are sometimes referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics. Each of your objectives should have measures associated with it—and for each of these measures you need to set a realistic target. Any changes to your measures should come from your department heads or others in a leadership position—so we recommend holding a strategy retreat or half-day meeting to discuss any measures that need to be changed.

Initiatives aren’t one-off tasks; they’re big picture or long-term projects your organization is tracking for strategic success. You’re more likely to shift, remove, or add new initiatives during your strategy review process than you are to change your measures or initiatives. Therefore, be sure to discuss budget, start and end dates, and tie-ins to your measures and objectives before making these decisions.

Step 3: Improve Your Reports

Reports are imperative to communicating performance on your overall strategic plan. If you simply ignore your reports during your strategy review process, the strategy you’ve worked so hard to build may simply become ineffective. Therefore, you’ll want to ask the following:

  • Are we meeting at the right frequency? Quarterly and monthly meetings have different purposes, and you’ll want to be sure each meeting you hold is productive. (This guide to meeting management can help!)
  • Are our reports formatted correctly? In other words, do your reports show the information everyone needs to see in order to understand your performance? Keep in mind that each report will highlight different information; a measure report might show the owner, the frequency at which it’s being tracked, and series status, while an initiative report might show the start date, end date, budget, and milestones.

Step 4: Communicate Changes To Your Organization

When you conduct a review of your strategy, it’s extremely important to consider how you’ll communicate updates to or changes within your plan throughout your organization. Otherwise, you won’t create organization-wide buy-in, which will make it far more difficult for you to attain strategic success.

One organization—the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU)—achieved buy-in by making their strategic plan as visible as possible internally. They used videos, progress reports, brochures, posters, and even a strategy map cake to keep the organization’s printed strategy in front of employees and consistently on their minds. You can read more about how they used this strategy to their advantage in this case study.

Want to ensure that your strategy review process is successful? Download this fail-proof strategy review template!

We have witnessed firsthand how many organizations (including many of our own clients!) had an incredibly difficult time conducting strategy reviews. And that is why we created this in-depth, step-by-step strategy review template. It goes into far more detail about each of the four steps above, provides additional details about how to manage your previous-year and future-year strategic plans, and gives information on what you should do if you’re abandoning your current strategic framework entirely. If you work through each step methodically and cross off each part of the checklists included, you will have a successful strategy review—period. Download it for free today!

Time To Conduct A Strategy Review? Here’s How To Get Started