Changing the Way the World Thinks about Strategy
Strategic Issues

Strategic Issues

Finding Strategic Issues that the team must resolve to produce an actionable Strategy is key in Simplified Strategic Planning

We find Strategic Issues with multiple diagnostic exercises.  One is an exercise we call “Winner’s Profile”. We do it for a couple of reasons. One is to help visualize what the future leader in your industry might look like in about five years.  Another is to help determine what issues we may have to address in our planning horizon.

Our goal is to be the leader or to be able to compete effectively with the hypothetical leader. First, the planning team lists their perceived key characteristics of that future hypothetical industry leader. Second, they determine the concepts/attributes/elements that are required of the successful leader. Third, the team enters the list of key characteristics into the exercise form and discuss each item listed.

The team tries to determine what that idealized leader would consider critical to success

First of all, the team grades the significance of each success element into one of three categories: critical, important or beneficial, using a numerical scale. Then they discuss all the elements and arrive at a consensus numerical value for each element on the list.  This sets the “standard” for judging our current performance.

Then the really challenging part of this process begins.  The team then uses another, balanced, numerical scale to rate how well their own company is performing each element today.  The team judges each rating against the importance of the perceived “standard” for that element roughly five years in the future. This sounds easy, but to be objective while doing this exercise can be difficult. Each person and each area of the company has territory to defend. It can be difficult to be totally objective, especially when rating today’s performance against a somewhat nebulous standard set in the future. This is where good, experienced, objective leadership is important in your planning.

Teams will see the value in doing this challenging exercise once they get immersed in it.

The team then compare the two numerical scales after completing the evaluation of the current performance.  Where there is a significant difference in the numerical values of the ratings for a component, the team discusses that strategic issue.  The team includes this item in the Strategic Issues decision process, which they complete soon after this exercise.

The results of this exercise help the team by highlighting critical issues which they need to address in the strategic planning process.  It will help the team develop a stronger, more actionable strategic plan for the organization.

If your team needs guidance in analyzing the key elements for the future course and direction of your company, we can help. Contact Dana Baldwin at or 616-575-3193.

Author, M. Dana Baldwin

Author, M. Dana Baldwin

M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at:


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