The Four Questions of Strategic Doing

Strategy is really about answering two questions: Where are we going? and How will we get there? Many strategic plans don’t answer one or the other of those two questions – either they don’t have sense of the direction in which the organization is going, or there’s plenty of vague language but nothing about implementation on those visions.

The two questions are simple, but we’ve found they don’t give quite enough guidance for an organization to do things differently. To respond to that need, we’ve found that breaking each of the two questions in half – so that there are four questions – provides the needed structure:

  • What could we do? What are all the possible opportunities before us, based on the resources that we currently have, that would help us move toward the future we’d like to see?
  • What should we do? We can’t do everything – which opportunities, out of all the possibilities, should we pursue right now?
  • What will we do? What commitments are we going to make to one another to start pursuing that opportunity that we’ve identified as the best one?
  • What’s our 30/30? When are we going to get back together (usually about 30 days from now) to talk about what we’ve learned, to adjust our direction based on those lessons if needed, and to set our course for the next 30 days?

These four questions form a loop in which groups plan, do, reflect on that doing, and then make their next plans.

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