5 effective strategic planning models for your business

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
 and 
  —  
January 11, 2024
An image of a man standing in front of a whiteboard presenting a strategic plan to a group of people around a desk in an bright office setting

Strategic planning models are a catalyst for successful teams. Companies use these models to achieve their goals, steer through transitions, or make impactful changes. Imagine a roadmap guiding every decision, action, and initiative — a strategic blueprint illuminating your path to success. 

That’s what a strategic planning model is for your team.

This article delves into the five most common strategic planning models. By using one of these models in your own strategic planning, you’ll align objectives, foster collaboration, and drive tangible results.

1. Basic strategic planning model

The basic strategic planning model is a foundational model for strategic planning. It starts with establishing or refining fundamental elements — mission, vision, values, and objectives — that set the direction for the entire organization. 

Who uses this model?

This method is cost-effective and straightforward, making it most helpful for: 

  • Teams with no strategic planning experience: Because of its simplicity, the basic model is best if you’ve never created a strategy from scratch before. 
  • Companies with limited resources: It offers an efficient way to develop a strategic plan without requiring extensive investments or lengthy training sessions.

How to use the basic strategic planning model

Teams don’t need fancy tools or software to follow this model. Its simplicity helps you prioritize and focus on the most critical aspects of your strategy without being overwhelmed by complex frameworks. 

  1. Write (or refine) your vision, mission, and values: Hold a collaborative meeting with stakeholders to establish or refine these business components so they align with your current direction and aspirations.
  2. Set clear goals: Use the SMART goal framework, which involves setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
  3. Identify a strategy to reach your goal(s): Along with your leadership team, develop an actionable and attainable strategy. For instance, if your goal is to increase customer satisfaction by 15% in the next year, an actionable strategy might be to implement a customer feedback system and launch a customer loyalty program.
  4. Create an action plan to implement the strategy: Break down your strategy into tasks and milestones. Create a clear roadmap for implementation by assigning responsibilities and deadlines to team members. 
Related: The 5 steps of the strategic planning process

2. Goal-based strategic planning model

The goal-based strategic planning model emphasizes setting clear and measurable objectives. Teams use this model because the data-driven approach leads to more informed strategic choices. 

Who uses this model?

While this model is similar to the basic strategic planning model, it’s slightly more comprehensive and requires more time and resources. It’s useful for: 

  • Teams that need more nuance than the basic model: If you want to take a more detailed approach to your strategy, the goal-based model provides a slightly more structured framework than the basic model. 
  • Teams with limited strategic planning experience: This model doesn’t require specialized tools or extensive resources, making it accessible for teams that are still new to strategic planning.

How to use the goal-based strategic planning model

This goal-based model uses a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) as the foundation for creating an effective strategy. 

  1. Carry out a SWOT analysis: A SWOT analysis helps you identify key areas for improvement and growth. Pro-tip: Use the Mural template to save time and easily collaborate with other stakeholders. 
  2. Set goals based on SWOT: Define specific, measurable goals that address your challenges (weaknesses and threats) and leverage your strengths and opportunities.
  3. Establish the strategies to help you meet these goals: Brainstorm and prioritize actionable strategies aligned with your goals. For instance, if your goal is to expand market reach, your strategies could include launching targeted marketing campaigns or exploring new distribution channels.
  4. Create an action plan: Develop a detailed action plan outlining specific steps, responsibilities, and timelines for achieving the established goals over the next year. 
  5. Allocate resources: Allocate the necessary resources, including budget and personnel, to support the action plan’s implementation. 

3. Strategic alignment model

This model helps you closely align your strategies with overall business goals and values to create an integrated approach. It allows everyone in the company to work together better by making sure they all share the same goals and values. 

Who uses this model?

If your existing strategies aren’t helping you meet your goals, the strategic alignment model will help you reassess and adjust them. It’s most helpful for: 

  • Teams undergoing a transition: If your company is going through a merger or acquisition, this model can foster a smoother transition and alignment with the new strategic direction. 
  • Teams that need to refine existing strategies: This model offers a structured approach for reassessing and improving current strategies, which is especially important if you’re trying to adapt to evolving market conditions, shifting customer demands, or internal changes. 

How to use the strategic alignment model

This model emphasizes the alignment of your strategy with your company’s mission, vision, culture, structure, processes, and resources.

  • Identify which existing elements are misaligned: Conduct a comprehensive review of your company, including its existing mission, vision, culture, processes, and resources. This process will help you identify exactly where the misalignment is so you can align these elements with your strategy. 
  • Identify solutions for each misalignment: Collaborate with relevant stakeholders and teams to propose actionable solutions for each identified misalignment. For example, if there’s a discrepancy between the company’s stated culture and actual practices, your solution could involve revising policies or conducting more thorough employee training.
  • Create a strategic plan that implements solutions: Develop a strategic plan that incorporates your proposed solutions. Clearly outline steps, responsibilities, and timelines for integrating these solutions into your existing strategy and company framework.
Related: Mural’s Strategy Map template helps you visualize your goals across each area of your business

4. Balanced scorecard model

The balanced scorecard model gives a holistic view of your company’s performance by considering four main components: financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth. This method makes sure that organizations consider a wide range of factors and goals rather than focusing on just one. 

Who uses this model?

The balanced scorecard model is particularly beneficial for companies that want to establish or refine strategies in more than one area. It works best for:

  • Large companies that need to align objectives across several areas: Large companies with diverse operations and multiple strategic priorities benefit from the holistic view of the balanced scorecard. For instance, conglomerates or multinational corporations that operate across various industries can use this model to align objectives from different sectors.
  • Cross-functional teams: This model helps diverse teams work together in sync, ensuring everyone is on the same page to achieve big-picture goals.

How to use the balanced scorecard model

To use the balanced scorecard model, you’ll outline the objectives, KPIs, and strategic initiatives for each component (financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth): 

  1. Write the objectives: Define specific goals for each component. For example, for the financial component, your objective could be to increase revenue by diversifying revenue streams, expanding market share in specific segments, and optimizing pricing strategies.
  2. Determine the KPIs and targets: Identify the KPIs corresponding to each objective. For instance, using the same financial example as above, your KPIs may include revenue growth rate and market share.
  3. Outline strategic initiatives to meet your objectives: Establish the strategic initiatives or actions you’ll use to achieve the defined goals and KPIs. 
Related: OKRs vs. KPIs: What’s the difference?

5. Theory of change model

The theory of change model focuses on defining the cause-and-effect relationships between an organization’s activities and its intended outcomes. It helps companies articulate how their actions will lead to their desired changes and improvements.

Who uses this model?

This model helps companies establish clear pathways for improvements, making it beneficial for specific teams, including: 

  • Teams undergoing large transformations: This model is particularly beneficial for teams navigating significant changes, such as restructuring or organizational overhauls.
  • Teams that need to implement large-scale changes: This model is ideal for teams aiming to make substantial changes across departments or within the organizational structure, giving teams a clear roadmap for achieving these broad changes.

How to use the theory of change model

Using the theory of change model starts with prioritizing your desired outcome or result. 

  1. Write your desired outcome: Clearly define the specific change or improvement you want to achieve. For instance, if the desired result is to enhance employee satisfaction, outline the specific areas or factors contributing to this improvement. Conduct a change impact assessment to help your team map out how and when the change will happen.
  2. Establish steps to reach the desired outcome: Break down the overarching outcome into manageable steps or milestones. Identify the necessary conditions or actions required at each stage.
  3. Identify your KPIs: Your KPIs should effectively measure your progress and success toward achieving your desired outcome.

Choose a model for your next strategic planning session

Whether it’s the simplicity of the basic strategic planning model or the transformative power of the theory of change model, each one offers a unique pathway to enhance the impact of your team’s strategic planning.

Choose a model that resonates with your team’s needs and goals. By adopting a deliberate model tailored to your organization’s mission and values, you’ll pave the way for a more direct pursuit of your objectives.

And if you need help running an effective strategic planning meeting, look no further. Our guide has all the answers and insights you need.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.

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