+31(0)850220040 info@strategy-alliance.com Strategy Alliance @Strategy_All
By Bas van Gils & Mats Ouborg

Do you know that nagging feeling that ‘something is off’ but you don’t know what it is exactly? After management announced the new strategies, goals and objectives for the organization, you and your team have worked hard to create business cases for projects, allocate resources, and set get underway in the transformation journey. You feel you’ve done everything by the book, so things are bound to work out, right? Wrong!

Success rates of projects are still not where they should be. Both research and practical experience shows that a root cause is: we start off on the wrong foot. Let us elaborate on that statement. In a previous blog post we introduced our REALIZE approach for digital transformation. Here we zoom in on the first functional area: strategy elaboration and stakeholder mobilization in order to help you bootstrap your transformation initiative.

What usually happens

The new strategies, goals and objectives are a given.  Let’s say that it has been decided to attempt to capture a new part of the market with an innovative service offering, while at the same time attempting to improve operational excellence. In terms of the REALIZE approach, we see that a lot of organizations dive into the migration strategy & value management approach first (to define a change portfolio) and dive into execution mode, leaving the details up to agile teams. After a while questions emerge such as: are our initiatives contributing to the same shared goals? Do we understand these goals well enough? And have we thought enough about coherence, a high-level aspirational view for the enterprise to ensure that initiatives in the portfolio indeed align?

What good looks like

This is why it is key to start with strategy elaboration & stakeholder management. This functional area sets out to do exactly what its name suggest: (1) clarify what we are trying to achieve, and (2) get an engage stakeholders in the initiative. After all, in an increasingly digital, and fast changing world we need a people-centric approach to digital transformation.

The first objective is achieved by making goals and objectives more concrete and getting a better understanding of priorities. Typical questions are: which (operational) issues can we already tackle today in projects? Which topics should be addressed in light of the new strategy? What does the new business model look like? Which topics are on the horizon, of which we do not yet fully understand the implications? What benefits do we hope to realize?

The second objective is addressed through extensive stakeholder analysis. We recommend considering both internal and external stakeholders. Key questions are: who are the players in the field? How much interest and influence do they have? What are their concerns, and how can we address them?

Our recommendation is twofold: (1) always start with this functional area, and (2) frequently check if the insights are still valid or whether they should be adjusted.

Tools and techniques

To someone with a hammer, the whole world probably looks like a nail. We believe that every situation is different, and that tools and technique selection requires situational awareness. After all, understanding a statement such as “we are going to gain 10% market share by launching a new service X” requires a different type of analysis than “we see that the first time right degree of our key processes is causing customers to leave, we need to fix this”. To give some guidance in getting started with strategy elaboration and stakeholder management, we would like to list some tools and techniques that we frequently use:

Three horizons This technique originally comes from McKinsey. The idea is to map out which goals and objectives are about (1) fixing the current business, (2) new business, (3) innovations that are on the horizon but impact is still unclear
Canvas We use a variety of canvas approaches (value proposition canvas, business model canvas, operating model canvas) to map out what the organization sets out to achieve
Benefits map Benefits mapping is a popular technique to understand the relation between benefits that we are trying to achieve and the outcomes + enablers that are required to make that happen
ArchiMate motivation view ArchiMate is the defacto architecture modeling language. Its motivation view maps out stakeholders, their concerns, assessments of the current situations, as well as desired goals and outcomes
Stakeholder map The stakeholder map, or stakeholder power grid is an often-used tool. It maps out key stakeholders in relation to their level of interest and ability to influence the outcome of the initiative.

The basic stakeholder map is a 2×2 grid. We believe that it helps to enrich this tool with additional information such as:

  • Show the current disposition of the stakeholder with respect to the initiative with a smiley face
  • Show the frequency with which we interact with the stakeholder by increasing/ decreasing the size of the smiley face

Other examples may apply, of course. Always ask the question: which information do we need to make good choices and make the initiative successful? We will gladly discuss options for your specific case, and help you get started. We are also interested to hear your thought on what worked / didn’t work for you initiatives.


Are you interested in how your digital transformation process can be sped up? Or how our REALIZE approach could be of assistance to your organization? Please let us know! We are always willing to help you improve realizing your digital dreams!

Contact us at info@strategy-alliance.com or us personally at LinkedIn: Bas van Gils & Mats Ouborg.