The 3-Way Model is a strategy meant to improve the performance of organizations. Developed by William E. Deming, this "systems" model has become a popular method for analyzing problems and creating solutions.

Definition of the 3-Way Model

The 3-Way Model consists of three points of view: the customer point of view, the design/development point of view, and the operational point of view. It is based on the idea that each of these three points of view must be consulted to uncover the root cause of a problem and develop the best solution.

Overview of its Context & Benefits

The 3-Way Model provides a holistic view of an organization, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of internal systems. It encourages teams to ask questions and look beyond the initial problem to uncover potential solutions. It also encourages a team-oriented approach to problem-solving and helps organizations create achievable, actionable plans to improve performance.

  • Looking at problems from an operational, design/development, and customer point of view
  • Encourages teams to ask questions
  • Fosters a team-oriented approach to problem-solving
  • Creates achievable, actionable plans to improve performance

Key Takeaways

  • The 3-Way Model provides a holistic view of an organization
  • Consults three points of view to uncover the root cause of a problem and develop a solution
  • Encourages teams to ask questions and look beyond the initial problem
  • Creates achievable, actionable plans to improve performance

What is the 3-Way Model?

The 3-Way Model is a strategic planning model which helps businesses better understand their mission and goals. It is based on three primary components: the vision model, the action model, and the feedback model. In this model, the vision describes what the organization wants to accomplish, action explains how the vision will be realized, and feedback outlines how to monitor the processes used to achieve an optimal outcome. With the 3-Way Model, businesses can organize their objectives, create action plans, and monitor and evaluate results.

Primary Components of the 3-Way Model

The 3-Way Model is based on three primary components - the vision model, the action model, and the feedback model. Here is a closer look at each of these components:

Vision Model

The vision model explains what the organization wants to accomplish. It sets the long-term goals and provides the basis for how to achieve them in the short-term. This is the portion of the model where the business will start exploring their business objectives and evaluating different ways of achieving them. It includes setting measurable goals, based on the company’s mission and core values, and using those goals to direct future initiatives.

Action Model

The action model explains how the vision will be realized. It describes the steps required to reach the set goals, including identifying resources and developing strategies to reach them. This is the portion of the model where the business plans how they will operationalize the vision in terms of day-to-day operations and activities.

Feedback Model

The feedback model outlines how to monitor and evaluate the processes used to achieve an optimal outcome. It includes Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) to better enable the achievement of business goals. The goal of the feedback model is to ensure that the organization’s objectives remain on track, as well as adjust any processes or strategies that may have strayed from the original vision.

Preparing and Planning

When implementing a 3-Way Model for Strategic Planning it is important to begin with a thorough preparation and planning phase. This involves three key steps: assessing the existing environment, setting strategic goals and developing a team. All of these steps are critical to ensuring that the 3-Way Model is successful.

Assess Environment

The first step in preparing for Strategic Planning using the 3-Way Model is to assess the existing environment. This involves thoroughly researching the current situation, gathering data and analyzing the situation to obtain a complete picture of the dynamics shaping the organization and influencing its decision-making capabilities. Through this step, it is possible to identify opportunities and threats, and to determine appropriate strategies for addressing them.

Set Strategic Goals

Once the environment has been assessed, the next step is to set clear and actionable strategic goals. These goals should be specific and measurable, and related to the overall objectives of the organization. They should also be realistic and achievable within the resources and capacities of the organization. These goals will serve as the foundation for the development of the 3-Way Model.

Develop a Team

The third step in the preparation and planning phase is to assemble a dedicated team to manage the development and implementation of the 3-Way Model. It is important that the members of this team have a range of different skills and perspectives to ensure that all aspects of the model are thoroughly considered. In addition, it is important to establish clear roles, responsibilities and expectations for each member of the team.

By following the steps outlined in this post, it is possible to properly prepare and plan for Strategic Planning using the 3-Way Model. This crucial preparation and planning stage sets the foundation for a successful execution of the rest of the model and is essential for achieving desired outcomes.

Use Existing Resources

When taking on the task of strategic planning with the 3-way model, a key component of success is to utilize all available resources. Your organization may have financial and human resources that can be used to identify assets and liabilities in order to reach your desired objectives.

Financial & Human Resources

Organizations have various financial resources available to them that can be used to develop a 3-way model. One of the most important is the cash flow statement, which tracks the organization’s inflow and outflow of cash. This tool can help managers identify and forecast where cash will come from and where it should be allocated. In addition, managers should consult financial statements such as income, balance sheets, and statement of cash flows to get a full picture of the organization’s existing resources.

Human resources are also an essential part of strategic planning. Employees should be consulted on the goal-setting process and objectives, as well as in the implementation of the 3-way model. This ensures that an organization has the necessary buy-in from its employees and can leverage all applicable resources.

Identifying Assets & Liabilities

As part of the 3-way model, managers should identify the organization’s assets and liabilities. Assets are resources that can be used to achieve the company's objectives, such as physical properties and human capital. Liabilities, on the other hand, are obligations or outstanding debts such as loans and accounts payable.

Once all assets and liabilities have been identified and assessed, managers can begin evaluating their existing resources in order to best deploy them. This could include leveraging financial reserves to purchase necessary equipment, investing in employee training, or outsourcing tasks in order to free up time and resources.

Implement Strategic Plan

The last step in the 3-way model is to implement the strategic plan. This involves engaging stakeholders, executing the plan, and monitoring progress. These steps will help ensure that the plan is successfully implemented.

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a critical component of plan implementation. It helps to ensure that everyone impacted by the plan understands their role and is fully committed to its success. Successful stakeholder engagement requires clear communication, effective problem-solving, and timely feedback. An effective strategy for engaging stakeholders is to have open, honest dialogue about their role in the plan, and how it will affect them. Another effective strategy is to provide frequent updates about the progress of the plan and opportunities for dialogue.

Plan Execution

The next step in plan implementation is executing the plan. This involves putting the ideas, goals, and objectives outlined in the plan into action. Creating a timeline for implementing the plan can help to ensure that it is accomplished within the desired time frame. It is also important to ensure that the necessary resources, both financial and human, are available to effectively implement the plan.

Monitor Progress

The final step in plan implementation is to monitor progress. This involves regularly reviewing the plan and adjusting it as needed. It is also important to track metrics to ensure that the plan is on track and that it is helping to achieve the desired results. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales, customer satisfaction, and profits. It is also important to provide regular feedback to stakeholders so they can stay informed and adjusted as needed.

Evaluation & Constant Improvement

An effective strategy should seek to continually refine and evaluate existing strategies. A 3-way-model for strategic planning allows for strategic management to effectively track each facet. By doing this the chosen strategies can be aligned in order to maximize the likelihood of success.

Short-term & Long-term Analysis

When using a 3-way-model for long-term planning, it's important to set specific goals that can be routinely evaluated. This helps to ensure that the organization stays on track to achieving the long-term objectives. In addition, it is beneficial to revisit the goals and objectives on a regular basis over time to identify any necessary adjustments to ensure successful outcomes.

Refine Strategies

Once the goals have been established, it is important to track the results and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies. Regular analysis and evaluation will help to identify areas of improvement and opportunities for change. Steps can then be taken to adjust the strategies as needed to maximize positive outcomes.

Course Correction as Needed

It is essential to continually review, analyze, and assess the results of the strategies in order to identify areas in need of course correction. Regular course corrections can help to keep the strategy on track and ensure that all facets are working together in harmony. Changes can be made when needed with minimal disruption to the overall strategic plan.

By using a 3-way-model for strategic planning and engaging in regular analysis, organizations can ensure a successful outcome. By regularly evaluating the strategy, identifying areas in need of improvement, and adjusting the course as needed, organizations can overcome obstacles and maximize success.


The 3-Way Model of strategic planning is an effective tool for creating strong and viable plans. It enables careful consideration of each element before implementation, which leads to greater outcomes. The model is well-suited for a variety of organizations and can also be used to successfully evaluate plans in progress.

Strategic Planning with the 3-Way Model

This model focuses on three parts of strategic planning: the purpose, the process, and the output. With the 3-Way Model, these three elements are developed in parallel: the purpose drives the process and the process results in an output. This ensures that each element of the plan is both relevant to the organization’s needs and constitutes a practical approach to delivering desired outcomes.

Benefits of a Structured Process

The 3-Way Model approach encourages planners to consider the entire plan before executing any tasks. Having a structured process helps to ensure that all steps are well defined, making for a smoother and more successful planning process. Additionally, the 3-Way Model can provide a good starting point for those that have never used strategic planning in their organization.

In summary, the 3-Way Model is a sound way to develop and implement successful strategic plans. It has the potential to be beneficial to many organizations, as it provides a structure for every part of the plan. By using the model, businesses can ensure that each part of their plan is properly thought out, making their plans more effective and their goals more achievable.

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