Strategic issues

Strategic issues
See also

Strategic issues [1] can often be described as some fundamental policy-related matters or challenges that affect the organizations’ external and internal environment in various, usually business-critical ways. The issues can relate to internal values such as mission, vision and mandates, procedures and management techniques, but also to the products or services provided, the resources used, financial plans or direct and indirect stakeholders such as clients, employees, service providers etc. Identifying the strategic issues is one of the key elements of strategic planning and management.

Strategic challenges and international managers[edit]

Some examples of key strategic challenges that international managers are dealing with are [2]:

  • The way that demographic changes affect the businesses,
  • Imposed government regulations, taxes and tariffs,
  • Constant changes in the competitive landscape,
  • New, disruptive technologies,
  • Changing needs and likes of the customers (fashion trends, the influence of social media),
  • Increasing leverage of various stakeholders,
  • Automation of production processes,
  • Management of the financial resources,
  • Emphasis on human resource management and the importance of organizational culture and role of leadership.

Creating an organized agenda on the strategic issues could prove beneficial for any business operating in a volatile environment. Some scholars advocate for approaching this in a three-step way: listing the main factors affecting the company, dividing them in two categories: strategic (where a creative approach is essential) and operational (where existing knowledge and information can be used), and arranging those in line with the business need (logical, priority etc.). Further analysis can lead to dividing those issues based on whether they require immediate and undivided attention, can be handled in a routine way or it is enough to just monitor them [3].

One important factor in carrying out the strategic issue analysis is the ambivalence of the matter. Quite often the decision-makers focus on evaluating an issue as a solely positive or negative one, without considering the possibility that one matter could have both good and bad consequences, depending on the business context. Research says, that such broad, ambivalent approach to the strategic challenges identification could bring positive effects on the long-term management strategies and the perception of the external threats and opportunities that the management teams are dealing with [4].

Identification of strategic issues[edit]

Furthermore, there are several ways of approaching the process of identification of strategic issues. John Bryson has listed 7 approaches to Strategic Issue Identification [5]:

  1. The direct approach is a very straightforward one, where a simple SWOT analysis and mandates review lead to identifying the key strategic concerns. It is widely used across both NGO’s and government organizations.
  2. The goals approach is known for being a traditional one in terms of strategic planning. Before developing a long-term strategy, this approach advocates identifying the organizational objectives and confronting them with the identified strategic issues.
  3. The vision of success approach assumes that the members of the organization are striving to fulfill a previously established strategy of developing the ‘best possible’ vision of the enterprise – reaching all of the set goals, fulfilling its mission and generally, achieving success.
  4. The indirect approach is a complete opposite approach than the direct one.
  5. The oval mapping approach is one, where cause-and-effect- diagrams are being used in order to visualize and understand the potential actions and their consequences.
  6. The issues tension approach focuses on capturing the specific tensions that are directly related to the organization and addressing those.
  7. The systems analysis approach helps recognizing specific patterns in the business-specific issues given that the main area can be perceived as a certain system.



Author: Anna Śliwa