Addressing Complex and Cross-Boundary Challenges in Government: The Value of Strategy Mapping

This post first appeared on IBM Business of Government. Read the original article.

Government leaders today face serious, seemingly intractable public management issues that go to the core of effective governance and leadership.

These types of challenges run the gamut from the pandemic to economic
dislocation, homelessness, and natural and manmade disasters. These major
crises have complex causes, and the resources needed to properly address
them often transcend the capacity of any single government agency. Addressing
these challenges effectively requires what the National Academy of Public
Administration calls “new approaches to public governance and engagement.”
Such approaches necessitate collaboration or co-alignment across the efforts of
multiple organizations.

This report describes strategy management-at-scale, an approach to enable
planning that addresses the major challenges facing governments at all levels.
Integral to this approach is the use of collaborative strategy mapping—an
invaluable leadership and management method to foster direction, alignment,
and commitment. Strategy mapping helps leaders understand needed system
changes, and to articulate needed interventions. Strategy mapping helps users
visualize the cause-and-effect chains in a system and the actions that can be
taken to introduce reforms—linking aspirations with capabilities.

To highlight these links, the report offers three case examples of coalitions that
used strategy mapping for different purposes and to different effect. While the
primary purpose of the strategy mapping efforts varies across the cases, each
example illustrates that by using a few simple rules to formulate statements and
creating links, causal maps help reveal relevant values, possible goals and
strategies, and specific tactics and actions.

Along with describing how strategy mapping works in practice, this report
highlights the benefits of this approach. The authors offer insights into how best
to implement strategy mapping, leveraging available technology to help scale the
application and use of the tool. The report culminates with recommendations
and advice on how to start doing strategy management-at-scale by using
strategy mapping.

This report builds on the IBM Center’s long-standing research into leveraging new tools and approaches to
governance that better position government agencies to address complex challenges that cross or transcend
traditional agency boundaries. The report provides practical recommendations on how governments can work
with each other and with partners to leverage strategy management at scale and use strategy mapping to
address complex, boundary-spanning problems.

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