3 Questions to Challenge Your Current Strategic Direction

3 Questions to Challenge Your Current Strategic Direction
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Is It Time to Challenge Your Current Strategic Direction?
Most companies run annual corporate strategy retreats to agree upon the key strategic priorities for the next twelve to thirty six months.  Getting leaders on the same strategic page makes sense.  Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.

When done right, clear corporate strategies outline clear and compelling choices about where to play and what big bets to make to achieve your company’s mission and strategic vision with respect to your
unique value proposition that resonates with your ideal target clients and sets you apart from the pack.

But nothing in the marketplace stays the same. Whether you face an unexpected threat from competition, a disruption in technology, economic headwinds, or talent drain, your strategy needs to be regularly evaluated. To succeed, leadership teams need to test their strategy to ensure it makes sense within the overall market, culture, competitor, and talent realities. To stay current and competitive, we recommend challenging your current strategic direction as often as every quarter.

Where to Begin to Challenge Your Current Strategic Direction
Active involvement of key stakeholders in strategic planning matters.  Start by assembling a cross section of influencers who represent different functions of the overall operation — contributors at various levels who are willing and able to ask tough questions, think outside the box, and have the company’s best interests at heart.

Then establish that there are no wrong answers to the questions you will pose. The goal of the exercise is to shift the current strategy, if needed, to ensure the overall plan can meet and overcome foreseeable threats and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Three Big Questions to Challenge Your Current Strategic Direction

  1. If you were in charge, would the mission, vision, and values still resonate enough?
    To truly challenge your current strategic direction, give people a full sense of ownership. Allow them to challenge and question your three strategic drivers: (1) What you are doing (your company mission), (2) Where you are trying to go (your strategic vision), and (3) How you’re going to go about it (your corporate values). Sometimes the fundamental reasons for existing, your initial north star, and guiding belief systems need to be updated to better fit the current internal and external realities.

    While some leaders want to skip the creation of company mission, vision, and values to focus on more pragmatic aspects of strategic plans, weak or misaligned strategic drivers can undermine the strategic foundations required for commitment, engagement, and decisiveness.

    Do your strategic drivers still resonate enough to get you where you want to go?
  2. If you could change one thing, what would it be?
    Most teams and businesses have people, attitudes, beliefs, processes, decisions, or systems that never get fairly challenged. Left unchecked, sacred cows at work can impede critical decisions, derail strategic progress, and perpetuate a toxic workplace culture.  This question encourages people to review critical decisions and ways of working and to consider how the company should act differently going forward.

    Though it seems like the kind of question that relies simply on the wisdom of hindsight, the goal is to explicitly challenge and change the status quo for the better.

    What one change would make the biggest difference to the people AND the business?
  3. Assuming resources are unlimited, where would you invest them?
    Resource allocation matters.  A recent study by McKinsey found companies that reallocated more resources earned, on average, 30 percent higher total returns to shareholders annually. Yet, while resources at work are never unlimited, we are always surprised by the limited thinking of most leaders. 

    Resources can always be allocated differently to get different results.  We know from our leadership simulation assessment that high performing leaders excel at settling on a manageable set of top strategic priorities and aligning resources accordingly.

    Ask people to show up as a leader and to reimagine how resources (e.g., compensation, budgets, rewards, people, management focus, company attention, etc.) should be allocated if you were starting from scratch. 

    Do your main resources need to be reallocated to get you where you want to go in a way that makes sense?

The Bottom Line
The sooner you can punch holes in your strategy and repair or eliminate them, the more truly aligned your organization will be. You have everything to gain by asking the big questions and carefully considering the answers. Are your leaders ready to have the tough discussions?

To learn more about how to challenge your current strategic direction, download Should You Facilitate Your Own Strategy Retreat?

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance