Last week I blogged about a strategy being nothing but a hypothesis. It quickly became one of my most popular blogs. In it I stated that the biggest single failure of a strategy is because management is trying to answer the wrong question.

This week I thought I’d give you a sample of 4 wrong questions which I’ve come across in my role as workshop facilitator to prompt you to answer the right question: - 

  1. Medium-Size Office Equipment Supplier – This executive team had been trying to answer, “How do we get our service arm to run more efficiently?” After I worked with them for a short while, the question became, “How do we better align sales and service to deliver on our promises?” This made them realise that they were missing out on 20% of gross profit per annum because the objectives of the sales team and of service were not aligned.

  2. Community Services Not-for-Profit – This organisation was asking, “What should our growth strategy be while we maintain our current programs?”. After some digging the question became, “What is our point of difference?”, which helped them to articulate their value proposition for government to secure more government funding.

  3. Emergency Services Government Department – I was working with the exec team to answer the question, “How best do we re-allocate resources to achieve our key objectives?” Soon we realised they were trying to achieve the impossible. The question we eventually realised they needed to answer was, “How do we show the Ministry our objectives are likely to be not all achievable, while providing them with a methodology to choose which services we will need to put most at risk in the short term?”

  4. Numerous APRA-regulated entities - “How do we comply with APRA at the smallest cost and with the least impact on the business?” is the question always being asked. The question that should be asked is, “How do we build and embed a governance program encapsulating all our risk and compliance activities to lead our sustainable growth strategy?” If an organisation answers that question well, all stakeholders, including APRA, would be happy!

Is what you are doing today, this week, this month and this quarter answering the right question?

What in six or twelve months’ time might you look back on and wish you had done instead?

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