Strategic Planning Questions

Addressing the right strategic planning questions can help you to frame a sound corporate strategy for your organization.

Expected results of the Planning Process

During the corporate strategic planning process, clarity will be gained about the few key issues to be addressed by the organization, if is to thrive over the next few years.

Towards the end of a well run planning process, one that addresses the right questions, a consensus emerges around one particular strategy or small set of strategies.

What are some questions that can help achieve this consensus?

I am not talking the usual strategy questions such as -

  • What business are we in?
  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How will we get there?

We need a more specific set of planning questions than these.

You might also check out this link to a set of questions, which can set you thinking about he planning process itself.

Strategic planning questions
related to the planning task

The most basic question to ask is “why plan?”

Reason to undertake strategic planning
In my opinion, strategic planning motivation must have a more drive than comes from following a standard calendar. “Three years have passed, must be time for a strategic plan.” There must be a strategic reason for undertaking strategic planning.

The most obvious and rarely used basis for doing strategic planning is when you have lost confidence in your current strategies!

The other obvious trigger for renewing the strategic plan is when you can see the current plan is nearing completion.

However, in some cases you may not have the much discretion over when you carry out strategic planning, such when there are legislated planning events.

How do we plan?
This whole simply-strategic-planning.com site is about how to carry out corporate strategic planning in all sorts of organizations.

Who is responsible for what in the process?
See other sections under strategic planning process, and in particular, who is involved in strategic planning?

We can see that even before the strategic planning process commences, you need to address a few questions.

Strategic planning questions
related to objectives and targets

An organization should have a reason for existing. Questions relating to purpose, outcomes or impacts on the world should be the foundation for other parts of the strategic planning exercise.

Such questions include these -

  • What is the essential and distinctive purpose of the organization?
  • How will we measure overall corporate performance?
  • What level of overall performance would the governing body regard as satisfactory?
  • What would they regard as failure?
  • Who are the key interest groups, and how will the organization behave towards them, as it pursues it fundamental purpose?

For more information, see Corporate Objectives.

Strategic planning questions
related to forecasts and gaps

Relevant planning questions include:

  • What will happen if we do nothing but what we are doing now?
  • If we were starting the organization from scratch, would we be doing what we are currently doing?

More strategic planning question in this vein to be asked include-

  • What is the size of the strategic task facing the organization in terms of the overall corporate performance indicator?
  • What is the gap between forecast performance if we do nothing but what we do now, and what we have targeted?

Strategic planning questions related to the organization as a whole in its environment

Strengths and Weaknesses

  • At what is the organization better or worse than others are?
  • What special resources or capabilities do we have, that may be difficult for other organizations to emulate?

Opportunities and Threats

  • What are the important trends outside and in the future, we must address?
  • Especially what changes are likely to occur in our particular industry or industries?
  • Within the these 'industries', what is the competitive situation, in terms of driving forces such as sources of competition, barriers to entry of other providers, access to customers, changes in products?

These pragmatic questions require great honesty on the part of the planning team in carrying out this strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis.

For more information on how to carry out SWOT analysis, go here.

Strategic planning questions
related to strategy selection

Strategic alternatives

  • What requirements must a strategy meet?
  • What is the overall strategic situation being faced?
  • What are the key strategic issues or critical success factors?
  • What strategies are available to the organization?

Selecting the strategies

  • What are the criteria for selecting strategies?
  • Are there generic strategies that apply to the organization’s strategic situation?

Evaluation

  • What risks might the proposed strategies entail?
  • Is the chosen set of strategies good enough?
  • What might be a worst-case scenario with these strategies?
  • How might we manage any associated risks?

Strategic planning questions
related to strategy execution

Action Plans, Business Plans, and Budgets

  • What are the immediate projects required to implement the strategies, and who is responsible for what particular steps of implementation?
  • How do the proposed projects dovetail together, in a way that those providing the funds will endorse?
  • Do we have gaps in capabilities or resources, and how will we close the gaps?
  • How will the strategies affect current operations and resources allocation?
  • What will be the organizational changes, and how will we handle them?

Monitoring confidence

  • How do we know things are going according to plan?
  • Which factors do we have to monitor?
  • Who monitors what? How often do we monitor?
  • How do we manage corrections when things seem to be drifting from planning intentions?

All of the above suggest a range of questions for strategic planners that can provide guidance for the planning process.

Return from Strategic Planning Questions to Strategic Planning Process.

Return from Strategic Planning Questions to Simply Strategic Planning Home Page.

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