THE PROSPECTIVE STRATEGY TO BE TESTED

Staircase Model

Staircase models are popular for breaking an overall aspiration into sequential milestones, sometimes yearly. Staircases are a type of roadmap. The following figure shows a staircase for the launch and then the success of a new product line X. Staircases like this, however, could apply to any endeavor

Sometimes organizations present staircases as their strategy. Can they be strategies? Try the disqualifiers:

TEST THE STRATEGY

Opposite? Fail. Three of the four items have absurd opposites; the fourth has no opposite because of the numbers.

Numbers? Fail. The dates are aspiration dates (they say to do something in the future); the growth numbers are aspirations as well.

Duplicate? Pass. While there is no information about the parent (for example, the business, under which this product group exists), the specificity of the staircase almost certainly applies only to this specific organization.

Excluded? Pass, if this is the only product line, but fail if there are other product lines to manage that are not part of this staircase.

List? Fail. Even though the goals and plans are sequential, it is still a list of goals and plans.

CONCLUSION

Staircases are not strategies because they fail three, and possibly four, of the disqualifiers. They are, like all roadmaps, sequential high-level goals and plans. Therefore, as the disqualifiers reveal, staircases provide little real-time guidance and are not free choices.

But even though staircases cannot be strategies, they can provide value. Like all roadmaps, staircases are simulations of the future. The simulation can be reality tested during strategy framework design by asking, for instance, if the various function such as R&D, production, and marketing can meet these timelines. Achievement of the staircase can also be tracked with milestone metrics.

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