Stage 2: Develop strategic options

evaluate, and choose the best


Organisational Strategic Planning & Execution


By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia



This is the second of a series of five articles on organisational strategic planning and execution. I am using the following basic strategic management framework, based on earlier articles in this journal, as the common base for this series.

Figure 1: An organisational strategic management framework, with project contributions

This model places project planning and implementation in the broader context of organisational strategic planning and execution. In this series I am focusing more attention on certain elements in the top strategic stages, although projects will also figure in many of these discussions.

The articles in this series discuss each of the five stages in strategic planning and execution in turn. The first article (Stretton 2018d) addressed Stage 1: Establish strategic objectives, and summarised some of the extensive preliminary work that needs to be done before strategic objectives can be reasonably established; the increasing importance of “emergent” strategies in times of increasingly rapid change; and the need to re-establish strategic objectives as the latter come into play.

This second article addresses Stage 2: Develop strategic options, evaluate and choose the best. It will focus particularly on the importance of developing alternative strategic initiatives to achieve the strategic objectives, and on the importance of good conceptual level estimates, to help get meaningful comparisons in evaluating the alternative options, and to ensure that the chosen alternative will be viable.


This second stage begins with developing alternative approaches – i.e. alternative strategic initiatives – for achieving the desired strategic outcomes and thence realising the  benefits.

The importance of developing alternative strategic initiatives

In Stretton 2017k I emphasised the need to develop alternative “approaches” to achieving the desired organizational strategic outcomes and benefits. In my substantial experience in many types of planning, I have found that the first approach is rarely, if ever, the best. The development of such alternatives receives a moderate amount of attention in the project management literature, and I discussed specific contributions by Archibald 2009 and Prieto (in Archibald et al 2012:22) in that article. However, I also believe that it does not always get the kind of direct attention in the literature that its importance deserves, in spite of the fact that it is often implicit in discussions by some who do not address it directly.

I also noted in that article that, in my time in Lend Lease, it was virtually mandatory to consider all available options in planning activities, including strategic planning.

Checklists re developing alternative strategic initiatives

At this point I will summarise and adapt a checklist from Archibald et al 2012, which relates to what they called a project incubation/feasibility phase. Instead of “project”, I am going to use the broader descriptor “strategic initiatives”, which include both project and non-project components. This checklist essentially says that a strategic initiative “must begin with a reasonable understanding of what the principle objectives, scope, schedule, and cost” of the initiative is expected to be, including:


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Editor’s note: This is article two in a five-part series on strategic planning by Alan Stretton, one of the world’s experts in program and project management.  This series is based on Alan’s research and writing on this topic over the last several years, much of which has been published in previous editions of the PM World Journal.

How to cite this article:
Stretton, A. (date), Stage 2: Develop strategic options, evaluate, and choose the best; Series on Organizational Strategic Planning and Execution. PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue 5, May 2018. https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/pmwj70-May2018-Stretton-developing-strategic-options-series-article2.pdf

About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)


Alan Stretton
is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 190 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.