This post is part of our ongoing series on the action-oriented process. If you asked a room full of people to close their eyes, spin around five times, and then, with their eyes still closed, point in the direction that they believe is North, what do you expect would happen? More than likely, you’d have a room full of people pointing in completely different directions. This is what happens when market researchers rely exclusively on vague notions of business strategy without documenting a roadmap for success.Quite simply, the strategic roadmap is a formal document that outlines the organization’s strategic initiatives. The roadmap is publicized within the market research organization to ensure that the research agenda is aligned back to strategic priorities within the organization.We’ve outlined a three-step process for building a strategy roadmap. Step 1: Identify InitiativesEveryone wants to have a sense of ownership in the strategic process and the direction of their organization. That’s why it is so important to maintain formal annual or quarterly meetings with your stakeholders. These regular meetings help you understand their top strategic initiatives and keep everyone in lockstep with the broader organizational strategy.Step 2: Prioritize InitiativesBe sure to distinguish between short, middle and long-term strategic initiatives. This prioritization process helps to narrow strategic initiatives to the most important initiatives and to map them against a timeline.Step 3: Align ResearchOnce your initiatives have been identified and prioritized, it’s important to publicize the initiatives among your research team. This ensures that research is aligned back to important strategic initiatives. Having this alignment is helpful in allocating research resources because it enables research organizations to focus on what’s important and, perhaps more importantly, say ‘no’ to projects that aren’t strategically important to the organization, saving everyone’s time and money.Image courtesy of davecito on Flickr Creative Commons

Ellen Hart is a Senior Associate Consultant at Vivisum Partners. She specializes in in-depth qualitative research in healthcare and nonprofit fields.

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