Thomas E. Ambler,  Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert

Note: This post is a part of a series taken from Tom Ambler’s article Strategic Issues: The Pivotal Process for Strategic Success previously published in Compass Points in July 1999.  In Part 1, we introduced the series and discussed What is a Strategic Issue?  In this part we will discuss How Does the Strategic Issues Process Relate to the Rest of the Simplified Strategic Planning Process?

How Does the Strategic Issues Process Relate to the Rest of the Simplified Strategic Planning Process?
Figure 1 provides a schematic diagram of the entire Simplified Strategic Planning process. The information generation and analysis steps of the process build and converge toward Strategic Issues, while the later, intention formulation steps flow directly from it. Strategic Issues is a cornerstone of any strategic planning process.









Figure 1 (click here for a larger version)

The information-generating steps above the Strategic Issues block of Figure 1 take place early in the process. They provide the raw material for the review and analysis that occurs immediately before Strategic Issues. In his in-depth article entitled “Good Input – the Foundation of Good Strategy”, featured in the July 1998 issue of Compass Points, Charles Bradford emphasizes that good input—freely shared, properly analyzed, challenged and understood—is vital for good strategy. Unfortunately, the benefit of good input will never be realized unless the critical step that identifies Strategic Issues is handled properly by your Planning Team.

Does your team understand the difference between a strategic issue and a tactical issue?  Both can be very important, but at the strategy development stage, your team’s thoughts should be focused on those issues that are strategic: meaning they influence the course and direction of the organization.  If this is a difficult concept for your team, contact CSSP, Inc. at ­­­­734-995-3465 for guidance in your strategy development process.

In the next part of this series we will discuss How Should You Identify Strategic Issues?





© Copyright 2017 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tom Ambler is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at

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