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The 3 Strategy Questions Every CEO Should Ask Regularly

Strategy, fundamentally, is about consciously deciding where to do business, how to do business there, and how to change the organization accordingly. There can be no doubt that in a competitive business environment strategy is essential for sustainable success.

Only through strategy can an organization establish a lasting competitive advantage that enables it to capture the Big Opportunities ahead of competition, namely.

Whether the strategy will actually achieve this, however, depends on how well it is aligned with the actual business environment, how accurate its change management plan is, and how well this change management plan is executed. This is why it is imperative that CEOs actively engage not only in Strategy Formulation, but also in Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution.

Considering the demands on a CEO’s time, it can be challenging to fit these activities into the CEO calendar. To keep things simple, CEOs should start with regularly asking their organizations the following 3 strategic questions.

“Welcome the identification and communication of threats to plan execution. Don’t criticize managers for fearing the future.

1. Where are we today? Every organization will focus on the things it believes its leader is focusing on. Consequently, if the leader shows no interest in the execution of plans, the organization will not focus on this task either and none of the things that were agreed during strategy will get done. For this reason, regularly ask your organization about the progress of Strategy Execution: “Where are we today and how does this compare to the targets we set ourselves?”

2. Are we ready for the next steps? Organizations that manage Strategy Execution solely through asking backward-looking questions will always be reactionary. Since “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”, you should also drive a forward-looking mindset in your organization. This can be accomplished by regularly asking: “Are we ready to execute the next phase of the strategic plan and what could cause issues?” Key here is to welcome the identification and communication of threats to plan execution. Don’t criticize managers for fearing the future. Criticize them if they are not getting ready for it!

3. Do we still want to take the next steps? The global business environment today is characterized by continuous fast-paced and unpredictable change. Every strategy therefore runs the risk of being overtaken by time. If the real world does not change in accordance to what was assumed during Strategy Formulation, it is most likely the identified Big Opportunities will never materialize. In such a situation an organization would just be wasting time and effort if it continues focusing on executing the strategic plan. Such “strategic tunnel vision” can be avoided if you regularly ask your organization to challenge the strategy it is working under: “Do we still want to take the next steps of the strategic plan, or has the world changed in ways that necessitate a change in strategy?”

With this 3-step strategy, CEOs can very simply stay on top of his or her company’s priorities.


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