What are strategic issues in strategic planning?

Strategic issues facing companies are the important questions, topics, and challenges that firms must manage to stay competitive and relevant in the ever-changing business environment. Strategic issues come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Understanding and managing your strategic issues is key to achieving long-term, sustained growth. Some leaders only think of issues as adverse or harmful events or problems that must be addressed. However, issues can also include opportunities that the enterprise should consider in order to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

How do you critically analyze a strategic plan’s issues?

When identifying, examining, and analyzing important issues, leaders should look both internally and externally. Here are a few examples of areas to consider:

Internal Issues

  • Supply-chain disruptions
  • Product lifecycle
  • Workforce and talent
  • Product or service offerings
  • Target customers
  • Internal operating systems
  • New innovations in products and processes

External Issues

  • Globalization trends
  • Political and regulatory changes
  • Economic conditions
  • Industry consolidations
  • Technology disruptions
  • Competitor behaviors and rivalry
  • Social trends
  • Environmental patterns
  • Population health and welfare

Periodically, executives need to refresh their perspective and assumptions about all of the variables that could impact their business. When examining relevant issues, we advise our clients to consider three timeframes:

  1. Near-term issues that could affect the organization this year or next.
  2. Mid-term issues that could affect the success of the enterprise over the next three to five years.
  3. Long-term issues that could affect the fortune of the business five years from now or beyond.

How do you develop a strategic plan?

Strategy is all about conversations, and conversations among leaders are the key to the strategic-issues methodology. When leaders come together and engage in open and constructive dialogue about the issues they are facing, they can compare each other’s thinking, logic, and insights about the future. Then, leaders can prioritize the issues, challenges, and opportunities they see, allowing them to formulate solutions and create a plan of action to contain risks and explore the opportunities they might like to pursue.

Regardless of your function in the business, the department you work within, or your level in the organizational hierarchy, you should periodically identify and review the issues that you are likely to encounter in the future. Every person, team, or enterprise will have to navigate turbulence and recognize opportunity. People and firms who can see and anticipate the future better and faster than the competition will have an edge as they strive to create value for customers, associates, owners, and their community.

set your strategic priorities