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The Seven Questions Method for Business Planning

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The aim of this briefing is to outline an approach to planning and problem solving in the business environment that can be used by personnel at all levels in business

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The Seven Questions Method for Business Planning

  1. 1. by Mike Shama
  2. 2. The aim of this briefing is to outline an approach to planning and problem solving in the business environment that can be used by personnel at all levels in business
  3. 3. • What are the Seven Questions • Question 1 • Question 2 • Question 3 • Question 4 • Question 5 • Question 6 • Question 7 • Bringing it all together
  4. 4. • The Combat Estimate (7 Questions) is a system used by the British Military to solve problems, and it can be used for assaulting an enemy stronghold to planning your sales strategy, and everything in-between • It is a model that does not prescribe which tools to use at any given stage of the process, rather it: • Assists in the comprehension of the problem faced • Assists in decision making • Improves analysis during the implementation phase • Allows for a fast analysis and creation of a plan of action
  5. 5. • How does the market situation affect the client? • How does it affect my operations / company? • What are the clients’ intentions within my area of responsibility? • What are my company’s intentions within the market and my area of responsibility?
  6. 6. • MISSION ANALYSIS • What is my manager's intent and what is my part in his plan? • What tasks are specified and what tasks are implied? • What constraints are imposed upon me? • Time, resources, liaison with client • Has the situation changed? • Time has passed since you began your analysis • Remain flexible throughout this process
  7. 7. • What is my intent? • What effects do i want to achieve and in what order? • What is my MAIN EFFORT? • Above all else, what must i achieve in order to be successful • It is about “concentrating efforts on achieving objectives that lead to victory. Of all the actions going on within our command, we recognize one as the most critical to success at that moment” • You may have multiple Supporting Efforts, but one Main Effort • This may have come through orders from my management • Who on my team do i need to achieve these effects?
  8. 8. • Each effect should be considered in priority order to determine where and how it can be best achieved. • All aspects of each effect must be considered in full so that a plan can be made for each. • How will I achieve each effect? • Start with the main effort • What is the competition’s most likely course of action? • What is the competition’s worst course of action for us?
  9. 9. • What’s my intent? • Allocate my time and my subordinates’ time to each of the effects/tasks • Confirm the task organisational structure for the upcoming operation • Are the resources focused on the main effort? • Manpower, Physical Resources, Tech Resources/Support, • Identify possible future tasks, resources required • Plan ahead • Communicate
  10. 10.  Coordinate the actions of all subordinates, colleagues and tech support, and managent support in time and space (i.e. Where do they need to be)  Will the effects/tasks be achieved sequentially or concurrently • Critical consideration for timings  Create a timing coordination matrix • This is the timing coordination plan for the team  Consider: • Preliminary operation actions • All subordinate and colleague actions and deadlines • All supporting actions required by management and deadlines  A good method is to use a table format that visually shows timings vs tasks and those assigned  Use the timing coordination matrix to justify the operation if required
  11. 11. • Measures to prevent duplication of effort within the company • What can i do / not do? • What can my team do / not do? • What must i not forget? • What needs to happen before something else begins? • Create reporting lines: • Points along the timing coordination matrix where tasked subordinates/colleagues send progress reports • Consider your plan for progress update reports for your higher management
  12. 12. As you have worked through each of the seven questions you will have asked yourself vital questions, and you are now in a position to bring those answers together in a coherent, coordinated plan With practice you will find this problem solving and planning techinque can be achieved rapidly, and is a very useful tool in both normal and high stress situations
  13. 13. by Mike Shama
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The aim of this briefing is to outline an approach to planning and problem solving in the business environment that can be used by personnel at all levels in business


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