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Strategy Formulation

Methods to prioritize opportunities - the synthesis

Leadership teamWhen finished, the strategic planning team's strategy must be clear, must align the firm behind the vision, must guide decisions, and must be easy to understand.

In this chapter, we use a SWOT or other prioritization techniques for strategy formulation.

When the strategy is simple and direct, others can prioritize what needs to be done. In strategy language, the team has agreed on a strategic focus (or strategic intent, priority issues, key initiatives, etc.). My analogy is the 80/20 rule. You want to identify the 20% that will have the most impact — every thing else falls into place.

Strategic Focus Anticipating demand Our supply processes Priorities Leadership Tasks To identify your strategic focus, you filter the results of your research through the critical success factors in your industry, your core competencies, and your customers' buying decision (or value proposition).

On the next pages, I'll describe several tools to help your team agree its strategic focus.

What comes first: big picture or specifics?

Most want to be skilled decision makers: objective, dispassionate, visionary, balanced yet bold, more often successful than not. Unfortunately, research suggests that most of us move incrementally from the last choice to the next. Nothing wrong with that, it is just hard to be a critical thinker.

Typically, when the team comes together to discuss the research conclusions, they already have solutions or initiatives in mind. This will limit your alternatives.

As a strategic planning facilitator, I learned that the most powerful method to think critically is socratic questioning, open ended questions that elicit information, inquire, clarify.

A person thinkingConcentrate on the big picture - Key Socratic Questions

  • Do our skills match our best opportunities?
  • How has our customer changed, how fast?
  • What have we done and our competitors been doing to attract new customers?
  • What is going to change regardless of what we do?
  • Who has come into our industry group? Who left? Why?
  • How have our relationships in our community created new business?
  • What must everyone in our industry do the be successful?
  • What about our organization makes us stand out?


previous page Which Planning Approach
         Is Best?

Examples of how
"Strategic Focus" Is Used

Critical Success Factors next page


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