Delta planning

Aligning strategic and operational planning

ValueMiner GmbH, Oystein Ullnaess

Every organization experiences it and is challenged by it - the fact that long-term goals and short-term actions do not necessarily match - causing organizations to struggle with focus and priorities short versus long term. 

The question I ask is if it needs to be like that?

Let´s first reflect on why it is a constant challenge. First of all the two types of plans are by nature of different level of granularity, measurability and length in time. 

Secondly they are driven by motivations and limitations of very different nature. 

Thirdly the process are often driven very differently - where strategic planning is often a top-down process and operational planning a bottom-up. Last but not least, the people participating are very different. 

As a consequence, strategic and operational plans tend not to be compatible - with the strategic plan leading to few actions and actions in the operational plans only partially supporting strategic objectives.

To break this trend, more organizations introduce delta planning. The idea of the delta plan is to combine both strategic and operational plans and focusing on achieving smaller increments of change. This means to break down strategic plans in executable increments and group them together both operational actions for the same topics or themes.

With help of sophisticated structuring governance tools, the structures for strategy and operational, can both be viewed separately and combined - enabling you to focus both on keeping separate perspectives as well as balancing and aligning actions for short and long term purposes.

This leads to the benefits of a faster planning process and better individual commitment to execute activities that contribute to also the long-term objectives of the business.  

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by Øystein Ullnæss