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Basic Business Cents: Tips shared for developing a winning strategy

In the previous discussion of the roadmap for strategy, mention was made of the three to 12 strategic actions necessary to reach the organization's vision. Determining those strategies is an enigma to many but need not be that hard.

After many years of having the responsibility of developing the corporate strategic plan and hiring the best-known consultants in the country to guide us, it was obvious there had to be a better way.

We usually ended up with a thick binder that looked impressive sitting on the shelf but no one ever opened it until the following year to see what we had said last year.

Sometimes management even locked up the few copies so employees would not leave and leak strategy to competitors.

In either case not much was provided to employees to give guidance in making decisions during the year. Strategy Management© is a better system for developing strategy and achieving results.

The light bulb went on while accompanying Dr. W. Edwards Deming on consulting visits. He did not pontificate to clients but asked penetrating questions and then kept quiet while they struggled for answers.

In this way, he learned of problems and opportunities. The collection of these questions along with those of other respected leaders and my own experience is the basis of discussion topics to trigger ideas leading to development of the winning strategy.

Prior to the planning event, assignments of topics and the associated questions are handed out to individuals of the planning team for research. These topics are:

-Organization viewed as a system


-Principles of management (values)

-Ideal conditions


-Customers' needs and wants

-Employees' needs and wants

-Owners' needs and wants




-Internal conditions

-External conditions






operating requirements



For large organizations, these topics are researched, including answers to the questions provided, are presented at a formal planning event. For small organizations, one or more individuals simply review the questions.

In either case, all involved have a pad of 3X3 inch "sticky note" paper and a Sharpie pen to write down in a few words all opportunities or problems that need to be addressed which come to mind during the review.

After completion of the review, all the notes are collected and processed and prioritized to determine the few critical actions needed to achieve the visions. Everyone involved has an equal opportunity to contribute ideas and given equal weight in the analysis, thereby creating ownership in the results.

The one-page roadmap of the strategic is developed and presented to all employees and other stakeholders.

Leaders for achieving each of the strategic actions are named and progress is reviewed at scheduled monthly meetings.

This is not an idle bookshelf showpiece but an active, living system that gets results.

Louis Schultz, managing director of Process Management LLC, has assisted organizations worldwide with performance improvement.He currently assists area business owners as a SCORE counselor. E-mail him with questions or comments at