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Bryson Chapter 6
Identifying Strategic Issues Facing the
Organization
 Identifying strategic issues is the heart of the
strategic planning process
 A strategic issue is a fundmental policy
q...
 The organization’s culture will effect which issues get
on the agenda and how they are framed and will also
effect which...
 Desired Outcomes;
This step should result in the creation of the
organization’s strategic issue agenda. This agenda is a...
4. It also helps to recognize that in terms of
the immediacy of the attention they acquire,
there are three different kind...
 Benefits
1. Attention is focused on what is truly important
2. Attention is focused on issues, not answers
3. The identi...
 Describing Strategic Issues
An adequate strategic issue description (1) phases
the issue as a question the organization ...
 Seven Approaches to Strategic Issue Identification
The seven approaches to identifying issues are the direct
approach, t...
3. In the vision of success approach, organizational members
are asked to develop a “best” picture of the organization
in ...
 Process Guidelines
1. Review the organization’s mandates, mission,
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and
challenges,...
6. Remain aware that there is an art to framing
strategic issues.
7. Remember that different strategic issues will
require...
12. Be aware that agreement on strategic
issues to be addressed in the next step is
likely to mark an important organizati...
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Bryson. chapter 6. identifying strategic issues facing the organization

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Bryson. chapter 6. identifying strategic issues facing the organization

  1. 1. Bryson Chapter 6 Identifying Strategic Issues Facing the Organization
  2. 2.  Identifying strategic issues is the heart of the strategic planning process  A strategic issue is a fundmental policy question or critical challenge affecting an organization’s mandates, mission and values, product or service level and mix, clients, users or payers, costs, financing, structure, processes, or management.  The purpose of this step (Step 5) is to identify the fundamental policy questions- the strategic issue agenda- facing the organization.
  3. 3.  The organization’s culture will effect which issues get on the agenda and how they are framed and will also effect which strategic options get serious consideration in step 6, strategy formulation and plan development. The need to change the organization’s culture may thus become a strategic issue itself if the culture binds the organization to important issues and possibilities for action. It is also worth keeping in that every major strategy will involve a cultural change.  Identifying strategic issues typically is one of the most riveting steps for participants in strategic planning. Virtually every strategic issue involves conflicts over what will be done, why it will be done, how and how much of it will be done, when it will be done, where it will be done, who will do it, or who will be advantaged or disadvantaged by it. These conflicts are typically desirable and even necessary because they clarify the issues.
  4. 4.  Desired Outcomes; This step should result in the creation of the organization’s strategic issue agenda. This agenda is a product of three intermediate outcomes: 1. The first is a list of the issues faced by the organization 2. The second is the division of the list into two categories: strategic and operational ( Generally strategic issues imply a need for exploring or creating new knowledge. Operational issues imply exploiting existing knowledge.) 3. The third is the arrangement of the strategic issues in some sort of order: priority, logical, or temporal. 4. It also helps to recognize that in terms of the immediacy of the attention they acquire, there are three diff
  5. 5. 4. It also helps to recognize that in terms of the immediacy of the attention they acquire, there are three different kinds of strategic issues: a. issues that require no action at present but that must be continuously monitored b. issues that can be handled as part of the organization’s regular strategic planning cycle c. issues that require an immediate response and therefore cannot be handled in a more routine way
  6. 6.  Benefits 1. Attention is focused on what is truly important 2. Attention is focused on issues, not answers 3. The identification of issues usually creates the kind of useful tension necessary to prompt organizational change 4. Strategic issue identification should provide useful clues about how to resolve each issue 5. If the strategic planning process has not been real to participants previously, it will become real for them now 6. A final very important benefit will have been gained: the organization’s character will be strengthened. Strong character emerge only from confronting serious difficulties squarely and courageously.
  7. 7.  Describing Strategic Issues An adequate strategic issue description (1) phases the issue as a question the organization can do something about and that has more than one answer, (2) discusses the confluence of factors (mission, mandates, and internal and environmental aspects, or SWOCS) that makes the issue strategic, and (3) articulates the consequences of not addressing the issue. At the same time, this description should probably be no longer than a page or two if it is to attract the attention and be useful to busy decision makers and opinion leaders. Once a list of strategic issues has been prepared, the team can figure out just how strategic each issue is.
  8. 8.  Seven Approaches to Strategic Issue Identification The seven approaches to identifying issues are the direct approach, the goals approach, the vision of success approach, the indirect approach, oval mapping approach, the tension approach, and the systems analysis approach. In general, governments and nonprofit agencies will find the direct and oval mapping approaches most useful, but which approach to use depends on the situation at hand. 1. The direct approach is probably the most useful to most government and nonprofit organizations. Using this approach, planners go straight from a review of mandates, mission, and SWOCs to identification of strategic issues. 2. In the goals approach- which is more in keeping with traditional planning theory- the organization first establishes goals and objectives for itself and then goes on to identify issues that need to be addressed to achieve those goals and objectives or else goes straight to developing strategies.
  9. 9. 3. In the vision of success approach, organizational members are asked to develop a “best” picture of the organization in the future, as it fulfills its mission and achieves success. This vision of success developed in this step will be sketchier than the more elaborate vision called for in step 8 of the strategic planning process. 4. The indirect approach , as its name implies, is a more indirect way to identify strategic issues than the direct approach. 5. The oval mapping approach involves creation of word-and- arrow diagrams in which statements about potential actions the organization might take, how these actions might be taken, and why are linked by arrows indicating the cause and effect or influence relationships between them. 6. The issues tension approach which frames issues around certain defined tensions. 7. Systems analysis can be used to discern the best way to frame issues when the issue area can be conceptualized as ssystem.
  10. 10.  Process Guidelines 1. Review the organization’s mandates, mission, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges, including any key indicators the organization watches-or should watch. 2. Select an approach to strategic issue identification that fits the organizations situation: direct, goals, vision of success, indirect, oval mapping, tensions, or systems analysis. Note: In this course, we will focus on the direct approach. 3. Once a list of issues has been prepared, try to separate them into strategic and operational issues. 4. If it would be helpful, use a litmus test to develop some measure of just how “strategic” an issue is (Exhibit 6.1). 5. Once strategic issues have been identified, arrange them in a priority, logical, or temporal order, as a prelude to strategy development.
  11. 11. 6. Remain aware that there is an art to framing strategic issues. 7. Remember that different strategic issues will require different kinds of attention and treatment 8. Focus on issues, not answers 9. Reach agreement among key decision makers that a major fraction of their time together will be devoted to the identification and resolution of strategic issues. 10. Keep it light 11. Notwithstanding efforts to keep things light, remember that participants may fall into “the pit” or “hit the wall” (i.e. face a dilemma, vicious circle , or paradox that seems it cannot be resolved)
  12. 12. 12. Be aware that agreement on strategic issues to be addressed in the next step is likely to mark an important organizational decision point 13. Manage the transition to strategy development The transition to the next step in the process will require careful management. It is one thing to talk about what is fundamnetal, quite another to take action based on those discussions.

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