Strategy Development: Seven Key Strategic Questions You Must Ask

Strategy development can be a messy affair.  In most scenarios, given the number of stakeholders involved in or affected by a strategic planning effort, there’s no doubt that you can potentially end up with a plan that is a convoluted, “please everyone” digest of hidden and not so hidden agendas. Unless of course you succeed in staying focused.

To help you achieve that focus, here are seven questions every strategy development effort should answer. The order of the questioning is vital:

  1. Who do we serve? Note: this should include potential markets/customers as well as existing ones.
  2. What are their Expectations, Needs and Desires (ENDs)?
  3. How well are we meeting their ENDs?
  4. What do we need to STOP doing, START doing and IMPROVE at doing to better meet their ENDs?
  5. What changes need to take place internally in our structures, systems, products, services, programs and culture to achieve this STOP/START/IMPROVE condition?
  6. How will we manage those changes?
  7. How will we celebrate success?

When you stay focused on these seven strategy development questions, in the order in which they are presented, then you won’t go astray. The presumption of course is that you already have an established, profitable customer base. If not, or if you are just starting out, then you will need to establish a solid business case for serving a particular market before embarking on strategy development. Remember…business case first, strategy development second.

The temptation will be to add to or adjust these questions. Resist the temptation. These questions are foundational, and are tough enough to answer as they stand. As the late Steve Jobs was fond of saying “I just want it to work”. So don’t complicate the process. Just make it work.

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