18 questions for crystallizing strategy

strategy is a guide to behaviorDid I ever tell you I love questions? I ask them constantly, and collect them intensely. For the purpose of culture, leadership, strategy and innovation, there are many types of questions that if used correctly can help you see a challenge from different perspectives that may lead to developing unique solutions; the types that can be revolutionary.

Innovative leaders ask themselves questions all the time, because well placed questions provide focus and perspective necessary for innovation. Dan Rockwell, aka @LeadershipFreak, shared some key strategy questions on his blog that are quite useful:

  1. What business are we in?
  2. What business aren’t we in? “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Michael Porter
  3. What does success look like?
  4. What do we aspire to achieve? “Sound strategy starts with the right goal.” Michael Porter
  5. Who are our current and potential customers? Drucker makes it clear, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”
  6. Who aren’t our customers? “You can’t be all things to all people.” Michael Porter
  7. How will we create new customers?
  8. How will we keep current customers?
  9. What are current strengths and capacities?
  10. What strengths and capacities must we develop?
  11. How will we monitor and measure success?
  12. What management systems best exploit and enhance our strengths and capacities.
  13. Who are our current and potential customers?
  14. Who aren’t our customers?

To the above, I’ll add some questions for crystallizing strategy I’ve used as an individual, for my own projects and my consulting work:

Overview questions

  • Why do we exist? (purpose)
  • What are our individual motivations?
  • Big picture, what are we really trying to do? (What will make people care?)
  • How exactly will our customers benefit from out venture/concept?
  • Will our ideas/problems tackled be a) incremental (refine), b) evolutionary (refresh), or c) revolutionary (re-imagine)?
  • As a whole, what is an ideal outcome?

‘Challenge’ questions

  • What happens if we don’t do it?
  • What has to be true for our concept to work?
  • How will we know we are succeeding?
  • How might we fail?

Next level questions

  • What business are we in? – subject, type of people
  • How ‘big’ do we want to be?
  • What are our guiding principles (values), style of engagement?
  • How will people feel them?
  • What do we want others to copy from us?
  • What will we do that others cannot?
  • What will we deliberately not do?
  • How do we want to be remembered?

Bottom line: Companies and people will have many hopes and possibilities, but they need a strategy to realize them; the above questions will help you crystallize strategy.