The FBI - Implementing A Strategy Management System

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the national security service of the United States, which has both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities and employs over 30,000 people.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks the FBI reviewed its strategy and in light of new threats put more emphasis on counterterrorism activities. Other strategic shifts included adding national security to the FBI’s responsibilities, replacing siloed operations with integrated teams, updating IT systems and moving from a tactical to a strategic mind-set.

Building a Strategy Management System

With the strategic shifts indentified, the next move in implementing the strategy was the creation of a Strategic Management System – SMS. Work commenced in early 2006 to map the strategy with all its goals into a one-page strategy map (see below). The enterprise-level SMS (which was built by the senior team) was ready by September of that year, and introduced to the Special Agents heading field offices.

The Strategy Map outlinesthe overall mission goals are in the green layer. These are then underpinned by key strategic themes of ‘Management Excellence’,‘Operational Excellence: Deter Detect, and Disrupt National Security and Criminal Threats’ as well as ‘Maximize Partnerships’, both considered critical to deliver the counterterrorism agenda. In addition to supporting the strategic shifts the SMS was positioned to help the FBI address several longstanding cultural and structural challenges. For example, the field offices had historically operated independently of one another. The yellow layers focus on workforce and technology related goals and the red layer contains resource efficiency goals.

Cascading the strategy

The next step was to develop the SMS to divisional and branch levels. To facilitate this, the FBI created a 10-strong Strategy Management Office, which is supported by part-time staff throughout the organization. Office responsibilities include being a central resource for implementing and sharing best practice, doing analysis across the organization and identifying trends across the divisions. They are also charged with educating new hires on the SMS, providing quarterly reporting documentation, and coordinating performance reporting to oversight entities such as the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Office of Management and Budget.

Measuring and reporting performance

Objective performance at the enterprise, branch, and division levels are measured, tracked, and reviewed on a quarterly basis and reported through quarterly strategy review meetings. During these meetings, the leadership team also reviews initiative performance and makes decisions on how to allocate resources in order to improve organizational execution.

The FBI has gained many benefits from using the SMS, stating that areas such as operational efficiencies and surveillance capacity have improved significantly. Naturally, there is much that an organization such as the FBI cannot share externally for reasons of national security.

Ideas and insights you can steal

Mapping your strategy into a strategic one-page map is a powerful communication tool that enables everyone inside and outside the organisations to understand the strategic priorities. If an organisation as complex and as guarded as the FBI can develop a one-page map and make it publicly available to align everyone behind a common vision, then every other organisation should learn from that.

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