Strategic Planning

The best strategic planning processes focus on insight, preparedness, and agility—not bureaucracy.

Most organizations are dissatisfied with the way they make strategy. They see their strategic-planning approach as too rigid, bureaucratic, reactive, and disconnected from execution. Confronted with faster-changing environments, they doubt their process can see around the bend to reveal the big, disruptive opportunities that will drive long-term value creation. 

At the heart of these concerns is the misconception that strategic planning is just about annual budgets and five-year plans. These traditional planning approaches work well in stable and relatively predictable sectors, but stability is less and less the norm. More turbulent environments call for nimbler approaches that match the clock-speed of planning to that of the market.

Four Strategic Planning Best Practices

The most effective planning approaches emulate four best practices and deliver strategies with four essential characteristics.

1. Explore strategy at multiple time horizons

2. Reinvent and stimulate the strategic dialogue regularly

3. Engage the broad organization and beyond

4. Invest in execution and monitoring


Strategic Planning in an Agile Environment

Organizations are embracing agile ways of working, which accelerate results by giving teams significant autonomy. But autonomy without alignment can lead to chaos. If strategy alignment is hard in traditional settings, rapid strategic planning and continuous strategy re-alignment in fast-changing markets is even harder. BCG’s Scan, Orient, Decide, Act approach can help ensure teams are rowing in the same direction and provide critical feedback on weak signals that may suggest the strategy needs to be rethought.

Explore Featured Solutions and Resources

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The Strategy Palette

Strategic environments are increasingly diverse. And different environments call for different styles of strategy.

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BCG Center for Sensing and Mining the Future

The Center tracks 90+ known and emerging megatrends that can provide critical tailwinds to accelerate strategic moves.


BCG Strategy Enablement Center

The Center helps clients enhance the strategic capabilities of their organizations.

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BCG Center for Growth and Innovation Analytics

The Center helps clients find tomorrow’s best opportunities by mining vast, unstructured data sets for insight.

Explore Our Featured Ideas

Always-On Strategy

Leading companies are improving upon their traditional strategy-setting processes by adding something much more dynamic and agile. We call it always-on strategy.

BCG’s Client Work in Strategic Planning

Helping clients enhance their processes for developing winning strategies is an important part of our practice. For example, we helped:

  • A major Asian financial institution rethought its strategy development approach in the context of the organization’s broader agile transformation. The new, always-on, agile planning process not only drove strategy capabilities and alignment deeper into the organization, but also significantly enhanced transparency and senior management and board alignment with the target strategy. At the same time, it enabled more rapid review of new strategic initiatives, leading to superior value growth.
  • A major global brewer, frustrated with its existing planning process, shifted from a financial budgeting focus to a more strategic approach. Together, we developed a new, more flexible approach that fostered real strategic dialogue among center, regions, and business units—and was more tightly linked to execution. In a postimplementation survey of important stakeholders, nearly 90% said they were highly satisfied with the new approach.
  • A European transportation company that lacked a structured approach to strategy development and performance management designed its first strategic planning process. The project yielded a lean and best-practice process that focused on achieving insight and alignment—and driving superior performance.

Our Strategic Planning Consulting Experts

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Perspectives on Strategy and Value: Insights on creating sustainable value in an uncertain world.