Albu On Strategy

Are You Asking the Right Strategy Questions?

One of the primary roles we play when working with our clients on developing and executing strategy is asking good question that are often not top of mind for owners and CEOs.  We ask questions to challenge the status quo, designed to cause debate and come to agreement on strategic choices.

Harvard Business School professor Robert Simons the author of “Seven Strategy Questions” is of the same opinion. In his book he provides seven key questions to answer that help you make better choices/decisions with more confidence.  

Interestingly, Peter Drucker reinforces this skill when he said, “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of the wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” Relying on the authors 25 years of research in determining the drivers of successful strategy in a variety of companies and industries, you avoid the pitfall of asking the wrong questions.

It is definitely worth exploring Robert Simons’ seven questions with your leadership team.   They might seem simple, but the decision they drive may not be:

  1. Who is your primary customer? It determines how to allocate resources to your primary customer and minimize resources devoted to everything else.
  2. How do your core values prioritize shareholders, employees, and customers? There is no right or wrong choice. Each choice is based on a different theory of value creation. But making a choice and communicating it effectively is essential.
  3. What critical performance variables are you tracking? Effective managers monitor only a small number of performance variables, specifically those that could cause their strategy to fail. We call these Tier I performance measures that help keep the strategy on track.
  4. What strategic boundaries have you set? Set boundaries for your strategy so that employees are clear about what to do, and importantly, what not to do.
  5. How are you generating creative tension? To spur innovation and motivate your employees to think and act like winners, competitive tension can be valuable for everyone when done in a positive environment.
  6. How committed should your employees be to help each other? Although you want your employees to achieve their personal best, they must also work together toward shared goals. Are your employees clear about the organization’s objectives?
  7. What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night? To adapt successfully, you must constantly monitor the uncertainties that could prove critical to your strategy.

Staying engaged in ongoing, face-to-face debate with your leadership team will help you provide clear and consistent guidance.  Answers to these seven questions will give you the confident your strategy is on track.

We would like to hear from you to learn how you are actively managing your strategy and testing its relevance regularly and consistently.  And please share this blog with your associates and friends as you see fit.

Posted in Newsletter, Strategy Development.