Abstracts: February 2nd, 2004

The Guide, which is produced by the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, explains what strategy is, how it works and how it differs in the public compared to the private sector. It was produced to help organisations think through what they want to achieve and how they will achieve it. Putting strategies into practice and acting strategically ensures that they are focused on the things that really matter – not buffeted by events or short-term distractions – and are able to allocate their resources accordingly.It explains that strategy is best conceived as an end to end process from the definition of goals to implementation. In a democracy, the end purpose will be to create public value – services and outcomes that are valued by the public. Policies need to be developed within the framework of a longer-term strategy, taking into account the practicalities of implementation. All strategies need to be adaptable, with quick feedback and effective information flows to take account of changing circumstances or unexpected events.

To be effective strategies must be clear about goals and relative priorities; underpinned by a rich understanding of causes, trends, opportunities, threats and possible futures; based on a realistic understanding of the effectiveness of different policy tools and the capacities of institutions (strategies that work well on paper but not in practice are of little use to anyone); creative – designing and discovering new possibilities and developed with, and communicated effectively to, all those with a stake in the strategy or involved in its implementation.

The Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit is part of the Cabinet Office. It was formed to provide a clear focus for strategic thinking and policy analysis at the heart of government. It began operating in 2002 through a merger of the Performance and Innovation Unit, the Prime Minister’s Forward Strategy Unit, and part of the Policy Studies Directorate of the Centre for Management and Policy Studies. The Unit reports to the Prime Minister through the Cabinet Secretary.

The Guide is available at: http://www.strategy.gov.uk/su/survivalguide/index.htm