Eight (plus) Strategy Questions
Strategy starts with understanding and understanding starts with questions. If we get better answers by asking better questions – then surely we should spend some time identifying, and crafting, better questions.
I have asked lots of questions in my role as a strategic facilitator – and I keep finding new, and better, ones. To get strategic management in your business right – start by asking the following eight (plus a few sub-questions) strategy questions;
- Who is your primary customer?
- What do they (really, really) value? (and what is your theory of value creation?)
- Does everyone in the business know what they value? (and how do you know that?)
- How have you organised what you do to deliver maximum value to your customer? (and does this reflect your theory of value creation?)
- Are there areas of ‘wasted or diluted value’ In other words are you doing things or using resources on things that do not really add maximum value to your customer?
- How do your core values prioritise different stakeholders in the business (shareholders, employees and customers)?
- How do you ensure that the touch decisions you face are guided by your core values – what examples do you have of this?
- Do your core values recognise the (often competing) interests of all your stakeholders?
- Is everyone in the business committed to your core values? (and how do you know this?)
- What is your ‘difference that counts’?
- What are you doing differently – that actually makes a difference? (and how do you know)
- How sustainable is this difference? (and what are the current and future threats to this difference?)
- What are the most important activities and resources in creating, and sustaining, your ‘difference that counts’?
- What critical performance variables are you tracking?
- Do they truly tell you whether you have created (or added) value for your customer?
- How do they link to the way you create value? (and what is your ‘theory of value creation?)
- Do they tell you what ‘has happened’ or what is ‘going to happen’? (and which is more valuable for you?)
- How do your crate accountability for performance?
- What strategic boundaries have you set?
- Do these strategic boundaries compel/constrain/encourage the right behaviour in your people?
- Are these strategic boundaries clear in everyone’s mind/ is there a common understanding of what is and what is not off limits (and within limits)?
- What are some of the strategic initiatives that you will not support?
- How are you generating creative tension?
- How do you encourage/allow for innovation?
- How do you encourage/inculcate the right thinking in your people?
- Is your organisation as complex as it needs to be BUT as simple as it can be?
- How ‘strategic’ are your people?
- What is your theory of motivation? (and is it undergirded by the same values as your theory for value creation (question 1 (a) above))
- How are you creating shared responsibility for success? (and how do you reward/incentivise this?)
- What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night?
- How do you focus everyone’s attention on these uncertainties?
- How do you allow/encourage/motivate everyone to be part of any changes that are necessary? (and what is your theory of change?)
- How do you encourage/require/compel dissemination of the right information at the right time in the right way? (so that you really know what is going on?)
Acknowledgement: Seven Strategy Questions: A simple approach for better execution (Robert Simons)