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Strategy Board Basics

Before you get started with the strategy board. Look at the following diagram that gives the conceptual schema underlying the strategy board.

Figure 1: The hierarchy of the strategy board

According to this schema, we begin with a Strategy Item at the top. Each Strategy is expressed through a set of objectives. Each objective is further expressed in terms of various tactical initiatives. Each Initiative is further composed of a set of roadmap items. Finally, each roadmap item is linked to an Epic/Feature.

Once you complete this mapping, then the data generated about work progress at the user story level gets aggregated all the way through to the top level strategy and you will begin seeing the progress visually against each objective.

Strategy: A strategy, in lay-man terms, is a long-term plan. The reference period for the long term, in theory, begins from 3 years. However, to allow the greatest degree of flexibility, and to accommodate the changing temporal references, Prakya allows you to define strategy for as short a period as 1 year. There is no upper limit on the number of years a strategy can extend to.

Objective: An objective is a SMART goal. It is a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goal. It is an expression of what the strategy wants to achieve over time. In other words, a strategy is translated into a series of goals or targets. These are how we realize that a strategy is working or it has worked and helped us reach where we want to reach.

For example, a corporate finance strategy may have a goal of minimizing cost of operations by 10% every year for the next 3 years. A functional marketing strategy may have a goal of gaining 60% of monthly active internet users eyeballs. See how specific, measurable and time bound these goals are! They are also reasonably achievable and relevant from a company’s competitive advantage point of view.

Initiative: Initiatives are the “How” of the strategy. For example, to achieve 10% reduction in cost of operations, we may implement a six-sigma project that reduces the number of defects in a given product. Note that this alone may not give us the needed 10% reduction in cost. But it is one of the several things we would like to do so that the overall effect of these things gives us the 10% reduction.

Initiatives are time bound too. But they cannot over-run the strategic time-frame. So, if the strategy time-frame for the financial goal we have set above is set to three years, then the initiative of six sigma project to reduce defects must be within that three years! It isn’t logical to extend that to more than three years!

Roadmap: Roadmap items are the “What” of the initiative. Continuing the above example, if we ask What are the steps to implement the six sigma project, we may get an answer that says “First, you need to train your staff to understand six sigma. Then, you need to do a technical study to understand and redesign the current process. After that, you may want to implement the redesigned process. Then, you measure the impact and compare it against the goals you have set.” Those are exactly the roadmap items that would be included in the initiative.

Now, you can breakdown each roadmap item into Epics, Features and User Stories.

It is noteworthy here that it’s not compulsory to use the strategy board. You can simply keep using Epics, Features and Stories. You can use the Kanban layouts and move your work done without mapping them to a strategy!

So, if you aren’t sure what this all means, it’s okay! You can come here later when you are clear about all this and still be in a position to link your strategy to the work being carried out!

If that is not cool, then we don’t know what else is!

So, let’s now dive into the nitty gritty of using the strategy board.

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