March 19, 2013
Six Simple Questions For Strategic Planning

Whether you are developing a corporate strategic plan or setting your department’s strategy, there is a direct correlation between the simplicity of a plan and the chances of adhering to it.

Why stack the odds against yourself with an overly complex or unclear plan? A sound plan and a simple plan are not mutually exclusive.  If you are going to work on a plan, your plan should work for you.

Cut through the clutter by answering six simple questions about your business or team:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. Where are we going?
  3. How will we conduct ourselves?
  4. What will we do?
  5. How will we measure our success?
  6. What improvements or changes must we make?

Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the questions. They require deep thought, good supporting data, and honest discussion in order to articulate concise answers.

Now that you’ve seen the questions, let’s take a look at how a worldwide manufacturer of golf clubs might answer the simple six questions to develop a strategy:

1. Why do we exist?

To bring confidence and winning strokes to golfers across the globe.

2. Where are we going?

We will be a trusted club in the golf bag of 75 percent of the world’s ranked professional golfers.

3. How will we conduct ourselves?

• Innovate in all we do—the big ideas and the little ideas.

• Respect our teammates and the profession we serve.

• Pour our hearts into our work. Every club is a reflection of us.

4. What will we do?

• Penetrate new markets.

• Boost brand exposure.

• Drive organizational efficiency.

5. How will we measure our success?

• Penetrate new markets.

  • Increase sales from $5 million to $10 million in China and Japan.
  • Increase sales by 15 percent in the European market.

• Boost brand exposure.

  • Achieve number 1 or 2 ranking in all professional player surveys of best brand of clubs.
  • Triple the number of brand impressions in Asian markets by year-end.

• Drive organizational efficiency.

  • Reduce manufacturing waste by 10 percent by year-end and by 20 percent over three years.
  • Reduce expenses as a percent of sales by 5 percent by year-end and by 15 percent over three years.
  • Improve average employee engagement score to 4.5 by year-end and to 4.8 (top 1 percent in industry) in three years.

6. What improvements or changes must we make?

• Penetrate new markets.

  • Hire new sales leaders for Asia and Europe.
  • Double pipeline of player endorsements in Asia and Europe by year-end.

• Boost brand exposure.

  • Sign three new sponsorship deals with top 100 ranked players by year-end.
  • Double the number of tournaments for which we are a primary sponsor.
  • Sponsor 10 junior golfers’ clinics in each geography.

• Drive organizational efficiency.

  • Train all employees on innovation techniques.
  • Review lowest-performing products.
  • Implement passionate performance engagement model to drive employee engagement.

Answering these questions (and making corresponding budget adjustments) will get you started with a solid plan you can adhere to.

Lee Colan
Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. is a leadership advisor. He co-founded The L Group, Inc. in 1999 to equip leaders to execute their plans and engage their teams. Colan has authored 12 books. His soon-to-be-released book, Stick with It: Mastering the Art of Adherence (McGraw-Hill, April 2013), is an enhanced and expanded 10-year follow-up to his bestseller. Learn more at

Other Articles by Lee Colan:

10 Things The Most Persevering People Do

How To Lead With Authenticity

Rules Of Engagement For High-Performing Teams

Why It's Essential To Keep Employees In The Loop

To Be A Great Leader, Be A Builder

Can Keeping Score Boost Employee Performance?

4 Keys To Coaching Underperforming Employees

7 Keys To Crystal Clear Communication

  • Tlloyd25

    Great list of questions!

  • Jean Letourneau

    All measurements are about getting bigger! Don’t get bigger unless you get better first!
    In a disruptive environment, must be looking for effectivenes.

  • Mark Anthony Pegues

    This is a good list of questions. I like how the goals cascade.

  • Lee J. Colan

    Great point, Jean! Here is a link to an article titled “Getter Bigger AND Better: Managing the Top 10 Risk Factors for Growing Companies”