Stress test your strategic plan

I was moving to wrap up a strategic plan today with a client, when a board member asked this question:Lift weight

If we “stress test” this strategic plan – borrowing the idea from banking, how would recent decisions our organization made align with this plan?”

Stress testing is a simulation used to test how banks will fare against a series of scenarios. During our planning process, our committee explored future shifts. The suggestion of looking backward against recent decisions was well-received. Check out this Recommended Reading about dealing with stress.

What followed was a robust and thoughtful discussion that didn’t change the overall direction of the plan, but illuminated areas that needed more clarification or “crisping up.”  Suggestions were made to ensure that we had enough supporting documentation or even footnotes to ensure institutional memory on why certain decision were made. This exercise also enabled the group to verify consensus on what was on the “we don’t want to take this on” list.

While aligning future choices against the strategic plan is really the reason to have one at all, this backward looking exercise helped crystallize how the plan would actually accomplish that. And helped this team test if the words on paper really could be a guide.

More reading on strategic planning for you:

Strategic planning tips gleaned from the inventor of the granola bar

Five elements of thinking strategically



3 responses to Stress test your strategic plan

  1. Abby Yanow

    Like the Stress Testing idea Gayle; checking backwards on decisions made and their alignment with the plan sounds very useful.

    • Gayle Gifford Post Author

      Thanks, Abby. The conversation that followed when we did this was extremely useful in clarifying the decisions.

  2. Sana Daunauda

    Thanks for that thought, Gayle and I like the looking backward concept it also taking care of the future ” looking back to the future”

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