Strategic Themes

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Strategic Themes are itemized, differentiated business objectives that connect a portfolio to the enterprise’s business strategy. They provide business context for decision-making within the portfolio, and they serve as inputs to the budget, portfolio, solution, and program backlog.1

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Related Mindset:

Value-Driven

Segment:

Organizational Foundations

Inputs:

Mission, Vision, Values, Enterprise Business Drivers and Financial Goals, Competitive Environment

Outputs:

Well-formed statements that can drive alignment

Strategic Themes provide the link between an organization's Agile Portfolio and its business strategy.

Strategic Themes are a construct of the Scaled Agile Framework®. The framework defines them as:

Strategic Themes are itemized, differentiated business objectives that connect a portfolio to the enterprise’s business strategy. They provide business context for decision-making within the portfolio, and they serve as inputs to the budget, portfolio, solution, and program backlog.1

For more information on how the Scaled Agile Framework® leverages Strategic Themes, please review the following abstract:

Common Pitfalls

Within organizations that are forming Strategic Themes, there are common pitfalls that must be avoided:

  • Lack of communication: If we polled your company’s employees, would they be able to articulate your company’s Strategic Themes? Communicating your enterprise’s Strategic Themes allows your employees to see how the work they do fits into the bigger picture; it provides them alignment to a common purpose.
  • Nebulous themes: Strategic Themes should provide a goal that can be measured against. In this manner, organizations can track investment within the ART and track that investment’s success at progressing the Strategic Theme.
  • Fragmented focus: It is important that the organization align behind a collection of Strategic Themes. This requires that the executive team must be in agreement on these themes. In many organizations, Strategic Themes may be focused within a specific business unit, which makes it difficult for the organization to focus holistically on the collection of themes.

Tools

One tool that can be helpful when defining Strategic Themes are Strategy Maps. In a book of the same name, Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton define the role of these maps within an organization.

References

  • Scaled Agile Inc., SAFe® 4.0 Glossary, Licensed Usage.