Rude Questions You Must Answer Before Your 2010 Strategic, Marketing & Leadership Planning

Strategic planning and decision-making is tough but when personalities, politics and biases are involved it becomes even more complicated. It takes courage to confront conventional thinking. Someone has to ask those uncomfortable questions that people think about… but never have the guts to raise. Sometimes there is a strong temptation to be quiet, don’t challenge the process and just get it over with.

Okay, I’m going to ask the tough questions. As my grandmother said, “The only way to change is to do things differently.” If you want to stimulate some real, measurable, relevant change then be bold, step up, man up and ask. Every process needs to be challenged from time to time. Start kicking the scared cows with questions like these.

15 Rude Questions You Must Answer

  1. Why are we doing this? Do we have compelling reasons?
  2. If we were starting all over would we do things this way?
  3. If there were no company politics, rivalries or biases involved how would this project or decision change?
  4. Who are the people who are conceiving, driving and doing the work and who are just watching?
  5. Why do we need the people who are just watching?
  6. What are three big things we can do with our customers that would have the greatest positive impact on their business and ours?
  7. Are our products and services really different and do they offer real, measurable value?
  8. Whose solution are they using while they are waiting on our solution?
  9. Are we easy to do business with and are we easy to buy?
  10. Is our Unique Value Proposition actually unique and valuable?
  11. What is our company doing to steal business from our competition?
  12. Is our department developing strategies to grow the business or just to protect our budget?
  13. Is our marketing attracting the business we want or just the business that wants us?
  14. Are the customers/clients we have today the ones we want and need 3-5 years from now?
  15. How do we change our business model to get the customers/clients we want and need?

Why you have to ask

No one sets out to make a bad decision. Actually, every bad decision begins as someone’s attempt at a good decision. Most of the problems stem from not having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how to make it happen. So the great corporate tap dance begins, the process gets longer and longer until all the best options fade away. Remember, the last available option is never the best decision.

Every change begins with questions and answers. If you never ask the tough questions – nothing positive happens. So have courage, ask, challenge and grow the business in 2010.

Strategic Thinking – A Task For All Employees

An organization needs to be well positioned in the marketplace so as to enjoy

– a competitive advantage if a for-profit business, and

– a solid reputation if a not-for-profit organization.

The organization also needs to operate efficiently and cohesively so as to achieve desired results. Strategy encompasses a gamut of activities. These focus areas will be explored in a series of articles on strategy; namely,

o strategic thinking,

o strategic planning,

o strategic alignment,

o strategic implementation,

o strategic agility, and

o strategic planning training

First, we will examine the all encompassing concept of strategic thinking.

What is Strategic Thinking?

Strategic thinking is the process of developing and evaluating every decision and action in light of current and future circumstances, the direction you want to go in and the results you want to achieve. It involves being able to apply possibility thinking to every situation. It is not about doing “business as usual” but rather pushing the envelope to see what can be done smarter and what else can be done “instead of”, or as an “add on”, that would maximize opportunities. Every challenge, every problem, or every action that someone needs to face or embark on in the organization needs to be assessed in light of the broader context. This wider framework will better inform decision-making and ensure the functioning in an organization is done in a more integrated fashion and is aligned to the strategic goals.

Who Should Be Doing the Strategic Thinking?

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not solely the domain of the top leadership, nor is it the sole responsibility of a strategic planning unit. It is the responsibility of every person working in, or for, the organization. It is also not a once-off activity to be done when a strategic plan is being formulated. Having a strategic plan is one thing, but having every employee working that plan is the ideal. It also doesn’t mean blindly putting into action what appears in the plan. It requires time to re-evaluate, challenge, and adjust where necessary.

Just think of the potential if all employees, from first line of customer interface, to clerical administrator, to machine operator, to team leader, to specialist, to executive leadership, applied proactive thinking to their work. To add to that imagine every employee and leader considered the environmental context in which they operate, the resources they have at their disposal, the relationships they need to foster, and the most efficient way to operate so as to achieve the best results and sustain them. Can any organization today afford not to enable or encourage such a process!

What Does Strategic Thinking Entail?

Strategic thinking implies that all variables are considered – those that pertain to the internal environment of an organization or work area, and to the market environment outside of the organization and to the much broader macro external environment.

On a daily operational level, it consists of considering every factor that could impact upon, or be impacted by, any decision made or action taken. It involves ensuring alignment to the organization’s goals. The potential impact is ascertained so that strategic decisions can be made and subsequent required actions planned for.

What Skills are Required for Strategic Thinking?

The ability to:

o see the big picture

o initiate innovative ideas

o conceptualize complexity

o know the right questions to ask

o think horizontally and simultaneously

o integrate concepts, however disparate

o know when to ask searching questions

o apply lateral thinking to different situations

o challenge current processes, practices and strategy

o unearth alternative approaches, solutions or methods

There needs to be a culture in the organization that allows and enables strategic thinking to take place. Individual employees also have a responsibility to extend their skill set in this competency and be willing to initiate strategic thinking in different situations. Strategic thinking provides a start for any strategy process and it also ensures that the organization’s strategy will remain relevant throughout the year.

Creative Use of KPI-SWOT Strategic Planning

A key performance indicator SWOT is an assessment tool of crucial outcomes of the performance of a particular company or an essential indicator of exact health status of an institution. Key performance indicators are procedures that stakeholders and managers use to determine their firm’s achievements. SWOT analysis an approach to planning which involves the checking and measuring of performance against expectations. This type of strategic planning is known as performance-driven planning. Strategic planning key objective is to instigate and agree on effective strategic planning processes.

This article focuses on how the SWOT analysis creates, classifies and prioritizes key performance indicators and identifies internal potential and weaknesses and external opportunities by conducting an environmental assessment. The swot analysis strategy is a tool used to conducts brainstorming to come up with ways to improve the performance of an institution and minimize the weaknesses and threats and augmenting strengths. There are several procedure involved in strategic planning engine: the performance of kip SWOT-idea cross impact analysis, formulating of plans, objectives, missions and goals.

After selecting the proposed plan, strategic planning engine performs a cross-impact analysis to establish the impact of the proposed plan on the firm’s ability to accomplish its kip-SWOT. It is also the role of strategic planning to finalize and implement, monitor and evaluate plans and their influence on strategies and goals of the institutional kip-SWOT. For an institution to come up with an effective working set of kip’s SWOT, the organizing committee must create a scheme of prioritizing the company’s activities and events. The main aim is to develop a feasible plan that represents the long-term survival and development plan of the organization.

It is advisable for the company to formulate a number of prospective plans so as to be in a position of trying out some of them to come up with the best and most effective plan that is compatible with the company’s objectives and goals. For a performance driven plan to be effective, valuable measures must be implemented and its value ascertained. Identification of SWOTs is crucial because successive steps in the course of planning for accomplishments of the chosen objective may result from the SWOTs. First, the committee members must make certain whether the objective is achievable, given the SWOTs. If it is not attainable, the organization must come up with different objectives and the process should be repeated again.

Once an appropriate SWOT has been established, the strategies should be sufficiently defined and correctly categorized. As they plan this data, organizers should also create a kpi update calendar that shows each data cycle and knows when new numbers will be there, who will gather the data, who will be in charge of the reports, calculations and giving out the outcome. All members of the company should agree upon a certain plan and should work together to ensure that their business achieves its long-term objectives and becomes successful. SWOT analysis is an effectual development tool that companies should use to assess their performance and identify various situations that will assist them to attain their objective goals.