How To Address Strategic Issues That Can Derail Your Efforts

All organizations will face strategic issues that can foil the best of plans. For example, the NFIB January Small Business Economic Trends Report indicates inflation remains a top concern and nearly 40% of small business owners report job openings they can’t fill. Additionally, Accenture’s Pulse of Change Index shows technology as the number one business disruptor followed closely by talent. But there are also other economic, regulatory, social, or geopolitical disruptors to add to the list.


What you need to deal with strategic issues that threaten to derail your efforts is a strategy; one pointed directly at mitigating the problem or challenge.

Before we get started, let me point out that a key assumption here is that your organization is trained and capable of developing linked strategies quickly and efficiently with an approach similar to the ThinkPoints one-pager model. If you’re using a conventional, long strategy process… well, that makes your task much harder but the same three points below still apply.

First, clearly identify the issue. A strategic issue is one that usually surfaces during the situation analysis (e.g., not a big enough talent pool to support growth) or during the normal course of business (e.g., competitive incursion) and if it isn’t addressed, it significantly lowers your probability of success. So, it’s not just any issue but one that has the magnitude to materially impact your business results.


Second, develop a strategy that specifically addresses the strategic issue. That means you need to start with developing a one sentence strategic intent, do an analysis of the issue, develop leverageable insights, and proceed on through the process until you have a clear, one-page strategy, with accountability, that mitigates the strategic issue.


Third, link the strategy to the parent strategy (where the issue first arose) and monitor progress in real time in the executive strategy execution process. Treat it like you do your parent strategy within the normal cadence of strategy management and execution. In other words, spend time on it.

The best strategies are often foiled by a failure to identify strategic issues and develop a mitigation strategy. When your hopes depend on overcoming an issue that can derail your business, you better have a strategy to deal with it.