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Strategic Issues: The Pivotal Process for Strategic Success-Part 4

July 21st, 2017

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 this part, we will discuss How Should You Reduce and Prioritize the List of Strategic Issues?

How Should You Reduce and Prioritize the List of Strategic Issues?
Typically, the team will generate a longer list of potential Strategic Issues than they will have time to discuss and resolve. Therefore, the list must be reduced and prioritized.

A simple “forced choice” procedure will rank your list quickly and efficiently. You will spend an average of about 30 minutes on each Strategic Issue. We find that the truly critical Strategic Issues usually fall in the top ten.

At this point you are now ready to launch into the discussion and resolution of Strategic Issues.

Normally, it is advantageous for you to address “What should be our future Strategic Focus?” as your first issue, since Strategic Focus is the broad answer to the Strategic Questions “what are we going to sell and to whom?”. It is, therefore, fundamental to the resolution of many other issues.

The companion issue is “What Strategic Competencies will we require in the future?”. Since it deals with the major Strategic Question, “How will we beat or avoid our competition?”, it will typically be the second Strategic Issue you handle. You want to assure consistency between your Strategic Competencies and Strategic Focus and recognize the high-level role played by Strategic Competencies in shaping your overall competitive advantage.

Resolving your Strategic Focus and Strategic Competencies issues first provides a tighter framework for discussing other Strategic Issues and appropriately narrows the field on decision alternatives you will consider acceptable.

The remaining Strategic Issues are addressed in priority order. The number you can handle is dictated by the time available. If 6 to 8 hours are available for Strategic Issues, you should be able to cover 10 to 15 different issues.

In the next part of this series we will discuss Methodologies for Resolving Strategic Issues.

Would you like to learn how to reduce and prioritize your list of strategic issues?  Would you be interested in attending a webinar on the subject?  Let us know!

© 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 ambler@cssp.com

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