Strategic Business Planning

Strategic Operating (StratOp)  Planning Process

What is the StratOp Process? Define the process

In today’s business environment it is critical to know where you currently stand, where you’re headed, and how you plan to get there. Over a fifty-year career of working with large and small businesses, government leaders, and non-profit institutions in the social sector, Tom Paterson developed a strategic operating planning process unmatched in its simplicity and focus. The Paterson Process™ evolved out of the need to gain clear perspective and create a living core plan in just three days that could be systematically implemented, managed and renewed.

The Paterson Process helps a business leadership team gain perspective on its entire company, both internally and externally, and blends the strategic (planning for tomorrow, today), the operational (taking care of today, today), and the financial (all of it must be funded) into a working plan deliverable. The Paterson Process installs a six-phase system into your management and leadership rhythm.

What does the Process Involve?

What distinguishes The Paterson Process™ from other strategic planning methods is that it is a behaviorally-sound process enabling leaders to manage their business as a whole, not as a collection of parts, vital in today’s globally competitive environment. Each step of the Paterson Process™ logically and systemically builds on the next and blends together the strategic (planning for tomorrow, today), operational (tending to today, today) and the financial (it all must be financed). The result is a breakthrough of thinking, alignment and focus. Through a “managing the whole” approach, a new potential is released with astonishing results.


Asking the question, “Where are we now?”, we use a variety of perspective tools necessary to help us gain the perspective of all the critical strategic and operational issues.  I only use the tools that are right for you, and I customize them to your needs. This is not a cookie-cutter process.  These tools include:

  • Turning Point Profile
  • 4 Helpful Lists
  • Pattern and Trend Analysis: Internal and External
  • Opportunity Mapping: Life Cycle Assessment; Opportunity Sensing; Risk Analysis
  • What is our Business?
  • Performance Drivers
  • Risks and Obstacles

Asking the question, “Where are we going?”, we now build our core plan from the perspective gained in Phase 1.  These core plan components include:

  • Core Assumptions: Strategic, Operational, and Financial
  • The Strategic Control Panel
  • Life-Generating Cycle
  • Purpose
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Big Idea Core Strategy
  • The W.I.N.’s (What’s Important Now)
  • The Plan-On-A-Page

Asking the question, “How will we get there?”, we use the following tools to launch and install the plan.

  • Wheel of Action
  • Action Initiative Profiles
  • Champions, Team Leaders, and Team Members
  • Situational Analyses
  • Action Plan Drafts
  • Action Plan “Scrubs”
  • Dovetailed Timelines
  • Plan Launch and Install

Asking the question, “What form is right for us?”, we use the following tools to design a structure that you can’t outrun for the next five years–based on the principle that “form follows function.”

  • Structure Design Boundaries
  • Organizational Design
  • Culture Assessment
  • Systems and Processes
  • People Development Plan

Asking the question, “How are we doing?”, you learn how to manage the following components of your plan.

  • Managing the Wheel of Action
  • Managing “Reds”
  • Managing Performance Drivers and Risks
  • Control Path Analysis
  • Managing Life Cycles

Asking the question, “What needs to change?”, you learn to adapt to rapid change in today’s world by using the following tools.

  • Renewing the Wheel of Action
  • Sensing and Seizing Opportunity (your fountain of youth)
  • Renewing Decelerating Life Cycles
  • Responding to New Patterns and Trends (internal and external)
  • Renewing the Annual Plan

Why Is the Process So Important?

  • Helps to continually rid the organization of imbalance, waste, and unproductivity 
  • Helps me to reorganize organizational priorities around what really matters
  • Helps me to cultivate and master the team’s unique giftedness
  • Any written document can serve as a powerful assessment tool and guide. The written StratOp Plan, if utilized and updated regularly, creates checkpoints, standards, discoveries and learnings of who the organization is. It is a living document. Just like a budget, a legal plan, financial plan, or business plan can give a clear picture of past, present and future, the StratOp Plan has even greater significance as it encourages a “manage the whole” approach.
  • This is a continual process to address new realities and act accordingly.


How Long Have You Been A Strategic Planner?

Since 2001, I have worked with organizations in strategic development. I have been a certified StratOp Facilitator since 2010.

Why Should A Team Consider The StratOp Process?

  • If the team is maneuvering through a crossroad or turning point.
  • If the leader wants to better clarify a unique path for their organization specifically
  • If the leader wants a written strategic plan/map, that highlights the organization’s unique past, present reality and incredible future.
  • If that leader or team wants a proven, reusable process for continued growth and development.

What Are the Benefits To The Process?

  • Greater awareness and clarity of organization’s health, giftedness, mission and/or priorities
  • Process culminates in the creation of a written working plan—an action plan, a response

When completed, The Paterson Process™ captures your StratOp plan onto a Plan-On-A-Page format with an underlying playbook. The plan is managed monthly and renewed annually. The end result is a new management and leadership system that will help you incrementally advance towards your vision, while staying true to your mission. You will learn how to identify and minimize risk, manage your drivers to high-performance, develop leaders, and imbed renewal into your planning system for rapid adaptation to change.