Strategic Choice Approach

The Strategic Choice Approach is used in face to face workshops of a decision making group.

Strategic choice is viewed as an ongoing process in which the planned management of uncertainty plays a crucial role.


The Strategic Choice Approach:

  1. Focuses on decisions to be made in a particular planning situation, whatever their timescale and whatever their substance.
  2. Highlights the subtle judgements involved in agreeing how to handle the uncertainties which surround the decision to be addressed - whether these be technical, political or procedural.
  3. The approach is an incremental one, rather than one which looks towards an end product of a comprehensive strategy at some future point in time. This principle is expressed through a framework known as a `commitment package'. In this, an explicit balance is agreed between decisions to be made now and those to be left open until specified time horizons in the future.
  4. The approach is interactive, in the sense that it is designed not for use by experts in a backroom setting, but as a framework for communication and collaboration between people with different backgrounds and skills.


The Essential Framework.


There are three key elements of analysis which are used in structuring problems and working towards decisions

uncertainty boundaries

  • The Decision Area
  • The Comparison Area
  • The Uncertainty Area - divides into three broad categories
    • Uncertainties to do with the working environment
    • Uncertainties to do with guiding values
    • Uncertainties to do with related choices

four modes of strategic choice

There are four modes of strategic choice

  • Shaping
  • Designing
  • Comparing
  • Choosing



The Strategic Choice Approach was originally developed using flip charts and wall space, however, a software package called "Strategic Advisor" or "STRAD" for short was developed and released in February 1991. The intention of this software package is to support individuals and small groups in the more informal use of the approach.




  • Friend, John. "New directions in software for strategic choice". European Journal of Operational Research. 1992, 61, pp 154-164.
  • Friend, JK. & Hickling, A. "Planning Under pressure: the Strategic Choice Approach". 1987. Pergamon (Urban and Regional Planning Series, Volume 37). Oxford.



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