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  • Start with what you know — 7 data inputs for developing a strategy

    My last post outlined 6 steps for developing a strategy. To have meaningful discussion and develop a robust direction, data is required.  Data helps you get the full picture. If developing a strategy is a relatively new undertaking for you and the team; start with what you know. A word of caution at this point, do not fall into the trap of trying to get every single last piece of relevant data.  You will find it a never-ending quest which distracts you from the real purpose and value of a strategy.

    Advance preparation essential.  Assign data categories to various individuals and have them bring the data to the meeting, or better yet, provide it in advance.  Identify an individual to take ownership for planning and leading the strategy work.

    Listed below are the 7 data inputs to strategy that have worked well for the organizations I led and supported. [Note: sample questions are provided but by no means consider it a holistic list.]

    [1] External Realities: What is going on in the economy?  What are the trends for our specific industry?  How do governmental regulations impact our business?

    [2] The Competitive Landscape: Who are our competitors?  How is the market segmented?  What are our strengths and weaknesses and those of our competitors? What are our core competencies?

    [3] Our Customers:  What are their wants and expectations?  How well are we meeting them?  What is the customer experience when interacting with us, for example, customer service, sales, website, and other forms of communication?  Are we “user friendly”?

    [4] Our Products and Services:  What is the range of products/services we offer?  What is the geographic scope of our offering?

    [5] Human Capital and Organization Structure: Does our culture support our vision? Do we have the right people in the right jobs? Are there impending retirements of key resources? Do we have an excellent employee development process? Are we relentless in the pursuit of putting the customer 1st and driving operational excellence?

    [6] Internal Operational Excellence:  How are our internal functions performing?  Are they supporting our end-to-end business process effectively? Who are our suppliers?  Do we have too many or too few?  Are there any risks associated with them?  Are we successfully eliminating defects and reducing cycle time in our operations?

    [7] Success Factors and Business Results: How do we measure success?  What are the financial outcomes of our business?  What is our market share?  What are our customer satisfaction scores? Are we measuring the right things?

    In summary, to launch a strategy planning effort, collect the data you already have, and follow the 6 steps listed in my prior post.  You and your team will find the strategy picture crystalizing in a way that allows you to create a clear path forward.  Along the way, you will discover additional data you want and will need to make minor course corrections during the year.  Your strategy should be a living process that provides overarching guidance to real time decisions.

    Published on April 26, 2012 · Filed under: Finance, Leadership, Process Improvement, Strategy Development; Tagged as: ,
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