By Todd Ballowe
How to Create Strategy & Drive Alignment

Having the ability to create strategy and solidifying alignment of an organization’s departments or divisions is never easy. The standpoint is how the information from the lead organization is translated down to the operational areas. The Strategy Map is a great illustration of how an organization can create a strategic plan with tight or loose alignment with its supporting departments or divisions. In the case of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA), they revisit their strategic plan every five years and in 2011 they were looking at the transition into the new centennial. At this point it was important for them to address what they should be doing differently.

The way BSA is structured is they have the national office in Dallas, Texas working with volunteers and professionals to establish the direction and day-to-day operations. Inside of that are a number of different departments/divisions.  Drill down even further and you’ll find 300 different councils. These are essentially franchises with the ability to do what they want, but they can align with the national direction, if they choose to do so. An example of such a council is the Council Operations. They provide direction and roll down to professionals and volunteers to the councils located in the United States.

Below is the Strategy Map for BSAs National Plan. You’ll see that they have seven pillars (you may call them initiatives or priorities), and foundational activities they have to have in place to move the needle over the next five years. These objectives provided the structure to come up with the national office goals to be able to make that happen. There a lot of things they want to accomplish so the departments/council operations provide the loose structure of what goals they support from the national office.

BSA national

When BSA developed their plan they had to communicate the plan down to the council operations. The 2011 Strategy Map greatly improves communication of the plan and fits the different departments in the National Organization so that they can cascade their goals within their own plan in order to support what’s being put together by the national team. In this case, the National team decided what Council Operations was going to support. It wasn’t necessary to create a different map, what was important was the consistent framework and communication.

BSA Council

Create Loose Alignment within the Organization

A major transition for BSA in the strategic planning process is that each individual geographic area was allowed to make the decisions to develop their own goals. To create strategy, the regions did not have to have exact goals and objectives that have to be accomplished; rather they were given the opportunity to make the interpretation based upon how they want to deliver towards the vision of impacting the youth in their area.

The Council Operations has a different mission because it is a franchise relationship and their top perspective is to deliver programs and services to the Scouts. If each individual council develops their own goals within this structure then they will be supporting the National Plan. They will be delivering based upon what’s going on in their environment. They are in alignment with, but do not necessarily have specific items that they have to meet each and every year.

The Strategy Map tells a strategy story of the organization and relationship within the organization. It also needs to explain what we are doing from a strategic perspective, what direction we are going and that it makes sense to people visually. Second thing that is important is that the Council wanted to know how they aligned, yes loose alignment, but wanted to see the correlation. It shows the strategic direction the organization was going, as well as communicates and aligns to the national strategy.

BSA Alignment

Steps Taken by BSA to Create Strategy, included:
• Created a generic balanced scorecard framework
• Syncing up the national strategy with the balanced scorecard framework
• Decided to keep the goals for the departments aligned with National
• Decided the Council (franchisee) would have the same framework but not the same goals.