Strategic Planning with a MORTAR and PESTLE

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Jan 12th, 2012
Mortar and Pestle

As business analysis practitioners, especially those operating in the enterprise business analysis space, we usually need to consider the reason an organization wants to effect some change. While it’s useful to have tools that help us steer stakeholders through this process, they can be tricky to remember in details, so here are a set of common frameworks that are memorable and useful in this space.

Business Motivation Model

The Business Motivation Model (BMM) is a great tool for assisting with this, as it provides us with a check-list of topics to investigate.

Business Motivation Model (BMM)

At a high level it covers the vision and goals (the Ends), the mission and strategies (the Means to reach the Ends), the Influences (external and internal) that affect the organisation, and the Assessments we undertake to understand the risks and rewards we can realise from these Influences.

SWOT analysis

One of the common tools available that assist with this assessment, is SWOT analysis. This mostly acts as a checklist, ensuring that we consider internal as well as external influences, and understand that these can range from positive to negative, from Strengths and Weaknesses (internal) to Opportunities and Threats (external) — typically represented in a four-square grid:

SWOT - Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

Assessing the external influences with a PESTLE

Unpicking this further, there are several approaches for assessing these internal and external influences; one of the most common–from an external aspect–is the PESTLE analysis model. As you would imagine, the word PESTLE is an acronym for six essential topics to consider.

  • Political: government interventions in the economy.
  • Economic: growth, inflation, interest rates, etc.
  • Social: growth in the population, education, etc.
  • Technological: automation, rate of change, etc.
  • Legal: laws on consumer protection, employment, etc.
  • Environmental: weather, climate change, etc.

Introducing MORTAR for the internal factors

We need to complement this with a corresponding model for internal factors. One of the most common is the McKinsey 7S framework, which provides a summary of important internal factors that influence an organisation’s success. However, keeping with the theme of PESTLE, I would like to propose MORTAR (another acronym, to aid memory):

  • Mission: the plan devised to achieve the vision and goals
  • Organisation: the way the organization is structured and reporting lines
  • Resource: the procedures and systems that staff use to get the job done
  • Team: the roles, capabilities, skills, and competencies
  • Approach: the style of leadership
  • Rites and Rules: core values, internal culture, and behaviour

Notes on levels of abstraction: I am aware that this articles presents a model within a model within a model (PESTLE and MORTAR within SWOT within BMM) and that can be as obscure as Winston Churchill (and later John F Kennedy) describing something as a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”; however abstraction is in the very nature of models — they simplify an area of study to make it easier to digest, and you know that simplification is stretched when it’s based around a set of letters, so don’t take it too seriously; nevertheless, such models do help us to more easily recall what is covered and act as a checklist.

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