What is the value of diverting precious resources, like time, money, and daily energy to pursue the real problem areas?
We'll come back to that question.
Ever felt overwhelmed by all the different strategic frameworks and methodologies out there? You're not alone. I've seen it all. I even wrote my own observations. And I've come to learn that the key to success is not about using the latest and greatest tools, but about asking the right strategic questions.
As a leader, you are constantly faced with the challenge of making strategic decisions that will shape the future of your organization. You may have read countless books, articles, and frameworks on strategy, but you still feel unsure about how to apply them in your specific context. You may have hired consultants, coaches, or mentors to help you, but you still feel like you are not getting the clarity and direction you need.
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for strategy. Every organization is unique, and every situation is different. What works for one company may not work for another. What worked in the past may not work in the present or the future.
The only way to find the best strategy for your organization is through guided inquiry.
The great thing about inquiry? They're agnostic to any nifty tool or fad you see getting hyped right now.
No one owns a patent over inquiry.
In our line of work, I find that there are some really good questions which can help draw attention to the right things.
We can spend more time than necessary answering the wrong question throughout the years.
Well, what is the value of diverting precious resources, like time, money, and daily energy to pursue the real problem areas?
Almost priceless. Ever saved millions of dollars (or your favorite currency) because you averted a potentially disastrous path?
And how do you know you're asking the wrong questions?
Below are 10 Good Starter Questions to ask. You want to create your own blueprint? This is a good way to do it.
Remember, no existential crisis will be solved overnight. Those are called silver bullets, which I already loathe.
But if you needed a free headstart, try this. Write the answers down. Then let them simmer in the background.
• What unexpected product success have you had recently?
• Which geographic areas have you had unexpected success recently?
• What market/industry segments have you experienced unexpected success recently?
• What customer segments have provided unexpected success recently?
• Unexpected successes from suppliers?
• Unexpected successes from competitors?
• Which of your technologies had unexpected successes recently?
• What unexpected customer/user groups have bought from you recently?
• What unexpected sources have asked to sample/distribute/represent your product recently?
• What unexpected product or service failures have you had recently?
• In which geographic areas have you had unexpected failure recently?
• In which market/industry segments have you experienced unexpected failure recently?
• What customer segments have proved to be unexpected failures recently?
• Unexpected failures from suppliers?
• Unexpected failures from competitors?
• Which of your technologies has had unexpected failure recently?
• what traditional customer/user groups have unexpectedly failed to buy from you?
• What traditional market segments have unexpectedly declined recently?
• What traditional distributors/representatives have unexpectedly not met quotas recently?
• What unexpected external events have occurred recently?
• What unexpected internal events have occured recently?
• Have any expected external and internal events combined in an unexpected way?
• What self-contained processes exist in the organization?
• What weak or missing link prevents better process performance?
• Why do some processes perform better at some times than at others?
• What bottlenecks do each of these processes have?
• What process weakness among your competitors might you be able to improve/exploit?
CHANGES IN INDUSTRY/MARKET STRUCTURE
• What major changes are occurring among your customers?
• What major changes are occurring in your geographic markets?
• what major changes are occurring within your market/industry structure or in the conduct of your business?
• What major changes are occurring among your competitors?
• What major changes are occurring within your regulatory environment?
• What major changes are occurring within your supplier relationships?
• What major changes are occurring in how you finance operations?
HIGH-GROWTH BUSINESS AREAS
• What parts of your business are growing faster than economic or population growth?
• What other businesses are growing faster than economic or population growth?
• What potentially high-growth business related to yours are dominated by only one or two companies?
• What parts of your competitors’ business are growing faster than economic or population growth?
• What parts of your customers’ or suppliers’ businesses are growing faster than economic or population growth?
• What technologies in your business are converging or merging?
• Which of your technologies is now being joined to outside technologies?
• Which of your technologies can be more effective if deliberately
• What would be the ideal convergence of technologies in your business?
CHANGES IN PERCEPTION
• What changes are occuring in how your products and services are perceived?
• What changes are occurring in the values of your customers?
• What changes are occurring in the lifestyle, image, and status of your customers?
• How will changes in perception affect your customers and suppliers?
• For what new purposes have customers purchased your products and services recently?
• What intangible reasons are customers developing to support your products and services?
• What societal, peer, and normative pressures will affect your products and services in the future?
• How is the age distribution of your customers and users changing?
• How will the educational level of your customers and users changes in the next few years?
• How will the income distribution of your customers and users change in the next few years?
• How will the geographic distribution of your customers and users changes in the years ahead?
• How might the buying habits of your customers and users change in the years ahead?
• What are the customer demographics that might change over the years ahead?
• How will the mix of your users and customers change in the next few years?
• What new knowledge has recently become known about your business?
• What combinations of knowledge have created new insights into your business?
• What new sources of information about your business have recently been tapped?
• What new patents or discoveries have been announced relating to your business?