STRATEGISATION - The Art of Mobilising people to Implement a Winning Strategy

Sometimes, being nosey is a good thing!

When developing a strategy, it’s crucial to identify the root cause of issues and opportunities rather than just addressing symptoms. This takes time, commitment, and a willingness to dig deeper.

In our book “Strategisation- The art of mobilising people to implement a great strategy’  we use the following model to illustrate the stepping stones required to achieve greatness. As you will see Step 3 is: ’ Prioritise Issues and Opportunities’

Many businesses tend to focus on the immediate issues they face without taking the time to understand the underlying causes. Addressing only the symptoms is like applying a band-aid to a deep wound; it may temporarily alleviate the obvious issue, but you won’t solve the underlying problem and risk the wound festering and causing more systemic damage if it goes unchecked.

Be brave – dig deep to find the root causes of issues or opportunities. Dispel the myths and highlight any barriers, no matter how politically difficult. Digging deep may involve examining multiple data sources, conducting surveys and interviews with stakeholders, and analysing trends and patterns in the industry. And, don’t  forget to look at customer feedback -good and bad!

There are several analytical tools that can be used to assess the market, your business and help reframe the situation including:

  • Gap Analysis: From AS – IS to TO-BE
  • VIRO Analysis
  • Value Chain Analysis
  • Strategy Canvas
  • Customer Journey Mapping

There is still a risk with some of these tools that they will only identify symptomatic problems or opportunities, which is not enough in itself – you must go deeper.  A great tool we use that maximises the knowledge of the people in your organisation is an adaptation of the ‘5 Whys’ tool made famous by the Toyota Motor Corporation. Where possible, do this as a team, as it helps align all involved.

Here’s how it works:

Setting the stage:

1. Identify a small team to work on this process. Furnish them with the relevant information collected from the initial analysis. If there’s a lot of reading, you may split the data across the group to reduce the workload.

2. Ask each person to read the information provided twice. The first time they highlight the key data and information they think is relevant to addressing the business challenge (online or on paper).

3. On the second read, they review the highlighted materials and decide which are still relevant.

4. Write these on a post-it (real or virtual), along with the document reference codes you developed during the informa­tion collection stage. Bring the Post-Its to a team meeting.

Going deep:

5. As a group, share your post-its and group them into clusters of issues. Review all clusters, then agree on a name or short description that summarises that cluster.

6. Utilise the 5 Whys process for each cluster to understand the root cause issue, using this cascading questioning technique:

i. What is the issue?

ii. Why might that be happening?

iii. Why might that be happening?

iv. Why might that be happening?

v. Why might that be happening?

vi. Why might that be happening?

Push as far as you can on each issue. Here’s a simple example:

You can then keep going through that line of thought to find the root cause (and opportunities).

7. As you get to the root causes in each cluster theme, you will often find commonalities across clusters. Look for similarities in the root cause. It’s crucial to understand how they link together – this is where the gold lies.

8. Summarise the root causes and key data elements that support them as an insight. Here’s a simple framework you can use:

Now that we recognise that ………..

There is an opportunity to …………

Here’s a simple example using our cold tea case:

Now that we recognise that My tea at the office was cold because I couldn’t take a china teacup filled with tea to my desk in the office without risking spilling it on my computer

There is an opportunity to Provide a china teacup with a lid on it so it won’t spill on computers or anywhere else

9. The next step is to focus! It’s important to prioritise these issues and opportunities by how important it is to address each one in your strategy.

Being close to the business, you may have blind spots when identifying root-cause issues; bringing in an objective external perspective can be valuable, but make sure you don’t let them dominate the content; remember, the people inside your business know it far better than any outsider.

In conclusion, taking the time to identify the root cause of issues and opportunities and embracing a curious, inquiring mind frame (perhaps channelling your inner detective) will lead to more innovative solutions that address deep rooted issues and opportunities for your business. These can be used to develop a strategy that drives profitable growth and sets you apart from the competition.

Share this article:

Recent news:

Driving Success By Working Smarter

The business world constantly evolves, and companies must adapt to stay competitive. We need to work smarter and with a curiosity that helps us look

Sorry If I’ve Offended You

I came across an article the other day, ‘Thumbs up, given Thumbs down by Gen Z,’ and as someone who is not quite a boomer




If you are a leader responsible for strategy development and its implementation and you want to have the greatest chance of success – Strategisation is for you!

Please fill in the below details to receive a link to the XPotential Innovation Competency Survey