It’s the questions you ask

There are lots of different tools e.g. SWOT Analysis that leaders and SME owners use in their strategic planning process.

And many templates to complete.

My experience as a strategic planning facilitator is that strategic planning becomes more of a form-filling, budget type exercise.

Or there is always last years plan that leaders can cut and paste (I know I used to do it when I was a leader at Amex).

But to really do strategic planning requires answering a number of simple yet thoughtful questions.

For example:

Professor Roger Martin has suggested 5 key questions:

1. What is our winning aspiration?

2. Where will we play?

3. How will we win, where we have chosen to play?

4. What capabilities must be in place to win?

5. What management systems are required to ensure the capabilities are in place?

These are all great questions.

They are short, concise and together form an integrated whole.

But based on my experience as a strategic planning facilitator I would add a few other questions:

What might stop us?

How to start?

How will we know if we are winning? (i.e. what metrics should we have in place) and

How to communicate the strategic plan, to whom?

Asking these sorts of questions makes the strategic planning process more of an ope-ended, exploratory and divergent exercise.

These questions provoke and stimulate debate.

And once answered provide the basis of a winning strategy.

Which in turns helps the business leaders and SME owners to focus, make decisions and grow.

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