Is Your Strategic Framework Useful?: CRISP Criteria

As originally defined, the CRISP model[1] establishes criteria that a strategic process must meet to provide the intended “strategists” with the clarity they require to make efficient, effective decisions in a complex, self-organizing system.  While the criteria are easiest to remember as CRISP, their logical order is purposeful, comprehensive, integrative, rigorous, and simple.

  • Purposeful. Why we do this
  • Comprehensive. What elements we include
  • Integrative. How we relate the elements
  • Rigorous. How we test this
  • Simple. How we understand this



The purposeful criterion of CRISP requires that the strategic process be clear why we are doing this process – the organizing essence of what we are trying to realize together. This is also known as the essential property of the system – the reason for which it exists, for which it self-organizes.


The comprehensive criteron of CRISP requires that the strategic process provide a clear understanding of the boundaries of what is included as relevant and what is not included.


The integrative criterion of CRISP requires that the strategic process make explicit the relationships among the different dimensions, perspectives, elements, and processes.


The rigorous criterion of CRISP requires that the strategic process be observable in reality, and reproducible.


The simple criterion of CRISP requires that the strategic process be simple enough to be understood.  This means that it must align with the rich complexity the human being is capable of understanding, not under or overwhelming them by dumbing down, oversimplifying, or overcomplicating the strategic process.

The CRISP criteria assess the degree to which a strategic framework supports the strategist in understanding what the system intends to achieve and how it works.


[1] Ritchie-Dunham, James L.  2008.  A Collaborative-Systemic Strategy Addressing the Dynamics of Poverty in Guatemala:  Converting Seeming Impossibilities into Strategic Probabilities. In Alleviating Poverty through Business Strategy, edited by C. Wankel. New York: Palgrave, 73-98. Macmillan.  Ritchie-Dunham, James L., and Luz Maria Puente. 2008.  Strategic Clarity: Actions for Identifying and Correcting Gaps in Mental Models, Long Range Planning 41(5), 509-529.


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