Throughout the strategic planning process you should be working through a series of exercises and exploration that generate a long list of issues you need to address or solve during your planning process, including the following:
- Past history–lessons learned
- Current products and services attractiveness and profitability
- Financial performance to assess the health of your organization
- Industry structure to uncover underlying dynamics
Naturally, all issues aren’t created equal. To focus your efforts, pare down your list to the select few that you think have the potential to have the biggest impact on your organization during your planning period. Typical strategic issues include answers to the following questions:
- How will we grow, stabilize, or retrench in order to sustain our organization into the future?
- How will we diversify our revenue to reduce our dependence on a major customer?
- What must we do to improve our cost structure and stay competitive?
- What is our new value proposition given that our customers are buying substitute products and we have new competitors?
- How and where must we innovate our products and services?
- Our industry is moving toward commodization; what should we do?
Gain consensus with your planning team around the short list of strategic issues. After you have agreement, identify when you’ll address the issues during your planning process. Where necessary, review and update your planning schedule.