[Q&A] 3 Questions to Define What’s Different a Year from Now

May 26, 2023

Q: What is the ‘fix, accomplish, and avoid’ approach, and how do I apply it?

A: It’s a three-question approach to help your organization think about what will be different in a year as a result of a strategic planning process.

Strategic planning can be overwhelming and intimidating. First-time strategy leaders and organizations often don’t know where to start. This is where the ‘fix, accomplish, or avoid’ approach comes in.

‘Fix, accomplish, or avoid’ is essentially a framework that offers 3 different dimensions or perspectives on strategic planning. This answers the broad question, “What do we need to do better or differently as an organization?”

This approach is a useful framework for organizations to identify areas of improvement. It provides direction for establishing an initial strategic plan and guidance for the ongoing management process.

Breaking Down Each Question

Different people resonate with each of these (or all three) dimensions, and using this framework can lead to more specific, actionable, and meaningful responses.

What are we trying to fix?

What is currently not working in your organization or strategy? What do you need to refine, change or evolve to reach your desired future state?

What are we trying to accomplish?

What must you accomplish to achieve your bold vision of the future? You can use this in both a long-term and short-term view. In 1 year, what do you need to accomplish? This quarter? This month?

What are we trying to avoid?

This question helps your team decide what they don’t want to do. Strategic planning is about making choices, and this question surfaces what you won’t do. Consider this to eliminate options in a sea of choices, be it market segments, customer segments, or choosing between your best opportunities.

Pro Tip:

By narrowing down the broader question into 3 straightforward mini questions, “What do I want to fix?”, “What do I want to accomplish?”, “What do I want to avoid?” it makes the process feel more manageable.

What Are the Outputs from this Exercise?

  • Defining organization-wide goals and initiatives. Answering these questions may help your team articulate what you need to accomplish and fix to achieve your desired future state.
  • Creating consensus about your future with your team together. This exercise is all about defining what’s different in the future. Answering this question can help your team align on where you need to go and why.
  • Organizing the strategic process into manageable pieces. These three questions can make it more manageable to start the planning process during your current state assessment.
  • Ditching the baggage of past failed efforts. Aligning your team on what’s different from this effort will lighten the baggage from past failed efforts.

Pro Tip:

The most important takeaway from answering these questions is to clarify how your organization will be different from today.

Additional Resources to Consider



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