Strategic Planning

Our Approach

ESTA uses a collaborative process to guide the development of a strategic framework which includes five distinct activities. Our approach teaches strategic thinking at the same time that we coach a leadership team towards a new strategic future.

Step 1: Context

Strategy development should always be grounded in evidence-based data and trends that the organization will face in the short, medium and long term. We help clients develop a research agenda and then divide the research work up, coaching the client on self driven research, and contributing new data ourselves where there are gaps. The Strategic Workshop provides participants with an opportunity to discuss and debate external trends at the global, national and institutional levels and internal trends within the organization itself. This process generates a list of issues which the organization is likely to face in the future, and which form the basis of the development of strategies in Step 3.

Step 2: Purpose

The vision and mission statements provide the framework within which the organisation will operate over the next five years. A vision is comprehensive and describes how the organization will look and feel in five years. A mission statement describes what the organization does and why. We find that organizations can easily define What they do, but there is often lack of unity amongst the leadership team over Why they do it. We lead the team to a unified definition of Vision and Mission. These statements lay the foundation for the future success of the organization.

Step 3: Strategy

The strategy of an organization is its response to the issues identified in Step 2 filtered through the lens of the Vision and Mission articulated in Step 1. Strategy is the approach that the organization will take to running its business over the next three to five years. While the mission answers what and why, the strategy describes how the organization will approach its business.

Step 4: Results

Truly successful organizations do not stop the strategy process after the development of a vision, mission and strategies. The critical next step is a clear articulation of expected results so that leaders can measure the success, or failure, of the organization in working toward its vision and carrying out its mission. Each strategy must be developed to include a variety of indicators that will report on progress.

Step 5: Action Plans

In order to implement the strategy, a significant amount of effort is needed to design action plans that identify specific initiatives to be taken by the organization for the coming months and years. We coach teams to ensure the concepts captured in the strategies are translated into tangible activities and personal behaviours in the workplace. Action plans are usually developed for a three year horizon, and include specific actions, resource requirements, and expected outcomes.

Sample Projects


  • United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR): Review of the UNISDR’s strategic and operational planning processes.

  • UNICEF: ESTA designed and facilitated a strategic planning process for UNICEF’s ICT division (ITSS) that included integration of new technologies, ICT4D and an off-shoring initiative.

  • United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI): ESTA helped UNGEI develop a three year strategic plan to lead the multi-party cluster into the period post 2015. The process included an environmental scan, stakeholder survey and facilitated 3 day strategic workshop.

  • Commonwealth Secretariat: ESTA led an initiative to develop strategies and recommendations on how to redefine the role of the Secretariat’s staff association (CSSA) within the organization.

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): ESTA developed and led a strategic planning process to create the first Human Resource Strategy for UNHCR. Working together with the Director of HRM, ESTA conducted demographical research and job histories, and facilitated three consecutive group sessions (25 participants) of HR leaders in UNHCR, redefining the mission of HR Management, creating an HR vision, and developing a strategy and action plan.

  • Palestinian Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Development of business start-up strategies and plans, staff development in the area of strategic planning, marketing, and business planning.


  • Accreditation Canada International (ACI): ESTA facilitated the development of a 3 year strategic plan, guiding the research for an environmental scan, facilitating a 2 day Board workshop and drafting the strategic plan itself.

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police: ESTAS led the leadership team of Canada’s national police force through two 3 year cycles of strategic planning and implementation coaching. This project also resulted in an organization-wide balanced score that was used to measure success and manage performance over the long term.

  • Perinatal Partnership Programme of Eastern and South-eastern Ontario: ESTA led the leadership team of this reproductive health organization through three, 3-year cycles of strategic planning including the development of results indicators.

  • HRSD Workplace Branch: Supported the ADM, Workplace Branch, in the design of a process to develop new strategic direction. Work included developing policies essential to the effective functioning of the new organizational structure.

  • Community Development and Partnership Directorate (HRSDC): Support to the Director General in the development of a new vision, mission and strategic framework for the Directorate in response to increased financial pressures, re-structuring within the Department and new leadership directions.

  • Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa: Developed a vision and three year research strategy, 2005-2008.

  • Therapeutics Products Directorate (TPD), Health Canada: Led a project to assist this science-based regulator in developing strategic plans that have led to a revision of the basic methods for product review.

  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Branch, Industry Canada: Led a planning and research process to establish action plans to support the implementation of a strategic framework.

  • Government of Canada’s Competition Bureau: Development of a 3 year strategic plan and links to the operational plans of the Bureau.

  • The Ottawa Hospital: Administered a staff survey, analysed data and advised the Chair of the Department on transition scenarios. Work led to a strategic planning workshop and creation of a medium term strategy and educational model for OB/GYN.

  • Royal Canadian Mint: Over a three year period ESTA led a functional review the RCM and supported fundamental reforms in executive and Board structure and roles, engineering, design and production processes, ERP implementation, global sales structure and practices, costing and revenue management. Work included developing recommendations and indicators for measuring successful engagement of key private sector actors.

  • Government of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade: New strategic planning process for the US Trade Bureau, linking strategies to field activities.

  • Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Design and facilitation of the 5-year strategic planning process for the Mortgage Insurance/Mortgage Backed Securities division.