Five questions to ask of your strategy

Businesses can sometimes – unknowingly – make the mistake of making their strategy harder than it has to be.

Whether it’s too broad, focusing on conceptual, future-oriented, big picture stuff or too narrow, getting caught up in the minutiae and intricate details that bog the strategy down, understanding how to strike the right balance is key to building and implementing a successful strategy.

In reality, strategy is, at some level, about all of those things. However, you have to work on all of them collectively, rather than focusing on analysis alone, or your big picture alone, or your changes alone.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of five questions you should always ask when you’re thinking about your strategy, to help you make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.

Treating your strategy making as developing a set of answers to five interlinked questions, which cascade logically from the first to the last, can be very beneficial in creating an effective strategy that engages the whole team and ensures collaboration across all levels.

So what are the five questions and how do they actually come together to build your strategy?

  1. What are our broad aspirations for our organisation and the concrete goals against to measure our progress?
  2. Across the potential field available, where will we choose to play and not play?
  3. In our chosen place to play, how will we choose to win against our competitors?
  4. What capabilities are necessary to build and maintain to win in our chosen manner?
  5. What management systems are necessary to operate to build and maintain key capabilities?

Answering these questions in a clear and concise way is the first step to formulating your strategy. From there, you can start to develop the actions required to achieve your goals.

The first question is all about setting the tone and ambition for your strategy. What are your long-term goals? What do you want to achieve? This is where you set the direction and make sure everyone is aware of what the organization is working towards.

The second question is just as important, if not more so. This is where you decide which markets or areas you want to focus on and which you’ll avoid. It’s also vital to think about how you’re going to compete in those chosen markets. What’s your unique selling proposition? What can you offer that others can’t?

The third question is all about your capabilities. What do you need to do to be successful in your chosen markets? This is where you start to think about the resources and skills you’ll need to achieve your goals.

Fourth, you need to consider what management systems are required to support your strategy. What processes and tools do you need in place to drive your strategy forward? This is often overlooked, but it’s essential to consider if you want your strategy to be successful.

Finally, you need to think about how you’re going to implement your strategy. What actions do you need to take to make it happen? This is where you start to develop a plan of action and set out how you’re going to achieve your goals.

Remember, strategy is all about making the right choices. The better you understand the questions, the easier it will be to make the right choices for your business. With that in mind, ask yourself these five questions next time you’re thinking about strategy and see where it takes you.

Ponder these questions and what they may mean for your team, your organization and your strategy – and stay tuned as we explore them in depth in our next blog post.

The Harvard Business Review also considers how to create a strategy based off these questions, ensuring your continued focus on success.

September 7, 2022
Team Empiraa