Thomas E. Ambler

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 Part 2 we discussed How Does the Strategic Issues Process Relate to the Rest of the Simplified Strategic Planning Process?  In Part 3 we discussed How Should You Identify Strategic Issues?  In Part 4, we discussed How Should You Reduce and Prioritize the List of Strategic Issues?  In Part 5, we discussed  Methodologies for Resolving Strategic Issues.  In this final part, we will discuss How does the Strategic Issues process drive later Strategic Planning steps?

How does the Strategic Issues process drive later Strategic Planning steps?
Figure 1 clearly shows that Strategic Issues links directly to the strategy formulation step called “STRATEGIES” in the Simplified Strategic Planning process. Your strategies derive much of their content directly from Strategic Issues. This content is restated and augmented with additional decisions and captured in a highly structured format that clearly enunciates your firm’s vision as to future course and direction.

Strategic Issues may also be linked to the process step that defines the future role of your organization (Mission Statement) and the process step that defines the general and continuing intended results necessary and sufficient to the satisfaction of your organization’s concept of success (Goals). The linkage may flow in two directions. Strategic Issues may arise because of your recognition that you are not fulfilling the commitments you had made previously in your Mission Statement and Goals. Conversely, the content of your Mission Statement and Goals may result indirectly from the resolution of Strategic Issues and its impact on your Strategies.

In turn, a comparison between your present course and direction, role and performance and your Strategies, Mission Statement and Goals will probably reveal some misalignments. These lead to the identification of those strategic initiatives required in the next year or so that will not happen in the normal course of business. In Simplified Strategic Planning these initiatives are called Strategic Objectives. Your team generates them by;

(a) reviewing your Mission Statement and Goals to identify areas in need of significant effort,
(b) searching the flip charts defining your Strategies for suggestions of major initiatives, and
(c) seeking key supporting details on the flip charts documenting the resolution of Strategic Issues.

You then translate each Strategic Objective into a detailed, scheduled, step-by-step Action Plan. Action Plans are the tools to focus your resources and drive RESULTS, and that is what you agreed you want.

And where did it all begin? It began with high quality information, but it largely took shape through a robust process that identified and resolved Strategic Issues and then linked them to where the action was.

So…, you want great results from your Strategic Plan? Make sure you have a great STRATEGIC ISSUES process! It is Pivotal! To see a detailed case study of Strategic Issues resolution along with an expanded list of topics that produce Strategic Issues, please click here.

Does your Strategic Issues process drive your Strategic Planning process?  Attend the Simplified Strategic Planning Seminar for more in-depth instruction on this subject as well as all other aspects of Simplified Strategic Planning.

© 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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