By Jeff Brunings
Use Strategic Issues to Create a Better Organizational Strategy.

Sure, you can develop good strategy without identifying and analyzing your organization’s strategic issues.

But why waste time?

You’d be settling with having just a good strategy when you could have had a great strategy. Undoubtedly, identifying and analyzing your strategic issues is often the difference between hitting a triple in baseball versus a grand-slam.

What are strategic issues?

Strategic issues are the ones that you’re losing sleep over. They’re the ones you think about when you’re driving home from the office. They’re the elephants in the room keeping your organization from reaching its goals.

There are two types of strategic issues; external and internal.

External strategic issues arise due to factors beyond your control. For example, one of our local clients is Nevada’s Washoe County. Recently, Tesla announced the construction of a $5 billion gigafactory for the manufacturing of electric car batteries to be located within the county. County officials are now creating a strategy for supporting massive growth in the local infrastructure and economy. That’s an external strategic issue. Staying flexible and dynamic is key.

Internal strategic issues are ones which your organization faces because of internal factors. One of our clients is a global technology company who is struggling to scale to deliver against revenue growth. That’s an internal strategic issue. Simply put, internal strategic issues are the “big problems” your organization faces that you have direct influence and impact over.

Tip: Most organization have 2 or 3 big strategic issues that are critical to address during a strategy development process.

Great. You’ve identified your internal or external strategic issues. What’s next?

Identifying strategic issues is only the first step. Now, your planning team needs to decide how you’ll analyze and collect the information you need to make informed strategic decisions.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how much analysis and data your team needs. A good rule of thumb to follow is to collect just enough to feel confident in making strategic decisions.

With strategic issues identified and data collected, you now begin the analysis. A great non-linear way to closely analyze your strategic issues is to perform a SWOT analysis on each. It gives your team the opportunity to really dive in and analyze it.

This approach allows you to create a cheat sheet you can use as a hip-pocket guide for your entire strategic planning process. Yep, you heard that right – analysis of strategic issues delivers a vantage point for starting see the whole strategy. It will help your planning team create a strategy that is relevant and aligned. And lastly, it will help you set-up the glory of a strategy grand-slam.

StrategyCheck: What are your organization’s strategic issues?

Jeff Brunings

With over 20 years management experience in multi-industry environments, Jeff drives customer experience by advancing the effectiveness of OnStrategy’s cloud-based platform and services.