Strategic Planning2018-10-13T06:29:43+00:00


Strategy is at the heart of all governance processes. A major role of any board is to ensure an appropriate strategy is in place and to monitor performance against this strategic plan.

The term strategy is one of the most abused and overused terms in modern management and governance thinking, stemming from the fact that strategy can be viewed through various lenses. There are over 80 different definitions of strategy.

One definition which we find provides a good starting point is that “strategy is where the organisation’s internal environment meets its external environment”. This is shown diagrammatically below:

Source: G Kiel, G Nicholson, JA Tunny, and J Beck, 2012,
Directors at Work: A Practical Guide for Boards, Thomson Reuters, Sydney.


Over the past 15 years, with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, we have developed a unique approach to boards and strategy which is summarised in the Strategic Board Model.

Source: G Kiel, G Nicholson, JA Tunny, and J Beck, 2012,
Directors at Work: A Practical Guide for Boards, Thomson Reuters, Sydney.

The strategic board model distinguishes three key aspects of strategy for boards. The first is “strategy as insight”. This is the understanding of the board, CEO and senior management team as to what is the organisation’s current strategy and the strategic options available to the organisation. This includes their understanding of the external environment, the organisation’s major purpose and goals, and the central strategies the organisation is undertaking to achieve its purpose. Strategy as insight is the content of strategy.

The second is “strategy as practice”. This refers to how the board and management team acquire and evolve this shared insight as to the
organisation’s strategy, how the strategy is then developed, elaborated and documented followed by how the board monitors strategy
implementation. Strategy as insight is about how boards and management teams “do” strategy.

Third, the Strategic Board Model makes the key point that top-level strategy is implemented when boards make major strategic decisions such as those involving major expenditures, significant use of people’s time and the acquisition, sale or upgrading of physical assets. For example, when a board approves a merger and acquisition; agrees to an expansion of geographic scope; approves the introduction of new products or services; approves the budget; approves significant research and development expenditure; decides on a new CEO with specific strategic strengths; agrees to a major capital expenditure proposal; approves the closing of a plant; or agrees to a capital raising or debt proposal – these decisions are all strategic decisions. It is the sum of these decisions which is an organisations real strategy.

There is a multitude of tools used by directors and managers to both gain strategic insight and share this with other directors and managers. There are both insight and practice tools.

Insight tools have been developed over the past 60 years to assist directors and managers conceptualise, understand, visualise, explain and discuss strategy. They come from a wide variety of disciplines: military strategy, economics, marketing, finance, the behavioural sciences and, more recently, the newly emerged discipline of strategic management. These insight tools provide is a mental framework for directors and managers to think about their current strategic situation, set goals for the corporation and provide a platform for discussing and understanding specific strategies. We have developed, taught and used many of these tools in our strategy work.

Practice tools provide techniques for conducting conversations about strategy and for documenting and communicating strategy. Typical
examples include strategic planning workshops and the various facilitator tools that can be used to promote a good discussion about strategy.
We assist boards and management teams to agree on the appropriate tools that best suit their organisation and industry as well as the
experience and understanding of both directors and managers.

While we have conducted many strategy sessions solely for management teams, we specialise in strategy sessions involving both the board and management team.


Strategic Reviews
We work with clients to review your current strategies and strategic processes. The outcome of a strategic review is a report on the organisation’s current strategies and effectiveness as well as recommendations for improving the strategic planning processes.

Setting Strategic Direction
Setting the strategic direction is the top right-hand segment of the Strategic Board Model. In our facilitated strategic direction workshops the top-level strategy of the organisation is reviewed and changes in strategic direction determined. The outcome is a strategic directions document, a one to four-page document summarising the organisation’s strategic goals and core strategies. This can be used by management to inform more detailed strategic plans which are then approved by the board.

Detailed Strategic Planning
The next stage of the strategic board model is strategy elaboration. In this stage a management takes guidance from the strategic directions document and further elaborates the specific strategies. We work with the management team, using various templates, to produce this detailed strategic plan which is sent to the board for approval. The detailed plan will also include an implementation plan to allocate effort and resources for the coming year.

Assisting in Implementation and Review
We work with clients in a variety of ways to assist in the implementation of the strategic plan. This work may involve change management
programs, assisting in negotiations, undertaking strategy reviews with the board, and general advice on strategy and its implementation.

Strategy Professional Development
We have conducted more than 75 seminars around strategic planning. We can tailor a program from a few hours to a whole day for your board and management team.

Over the past 30 years we have provided these strategy services for a wide range of organisations ranging from large listed companies, private companies, not-for-profits, schools and universities. Examples of the types of organisation are shown below:

A large family owned manufacturing company

A government owned
gambling company

Two large community
housing companies

A regional promotion

An Australian professional
services association

Two large pre-school

Three Australian industry

Three schools

Three universities

A sugar mill

Two arts companies

A major
accounting firm

A coal mining

Three medical training

A training company

Three multinational
software companies

A medical research

Four providers of
disability services

A medical regulator


As well as being a feature of corporate life, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are a major strategic option for all not-for-profit organisations. While many of the techniques and processes used in for-profit M&A are applicable to the not-for-profit world, not-for-profit mergers and acquisitions raise a whole range of unique issues and challenges.

Geoff Kiel worked with the Australian Institute of Company Directors to develop their program on not-for-profit M&A as well as their advanced program on for-profit M&A. He has advised several not-for-profit organisations on undertaking M&A activity.