Asking intelligent questions of employees or customers and analyzing their responses is critical for executives who are responsible for making decisions and setting corporate strategy. Ask the wrong questions of the wrong people, and you will not receive the necessary organizational intelligence needed to drive optimal outcomes. Worse yet, you might waste valuable time and resources in the process. Instead, find the right strategic questions to ask.
At 9Lenses, we are experts at helping leaders ask the right strategic questions and analyze the feedback to: determine the success of existing strategies, identify gaps in the strategy, and establish optimal strategic actions going forward. Consultants, Fortune 500 companies and SMBs alike have used our digital client engagement platform to automate this questioning process, asking thousands of questions to tens of thousands of stakeholders.
Below are 40 strategic questions to ask your employees or yourself from our platform that you can use that evaluate strategy comprehensively. These questions cover such areas as: General Strategy, Competition, Product, Pricing, Customers, Sales, etc. – just a small sample of the areas that our platform is capable of pulsing.
1. Does your organization’s corporate responsibility strategy match the availability of your current resources?
This question addresses your strategy in terms of the funding, time, people, and information necessary to make the strategy work, determining its feasibility.
2. How often does your organization assess its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in order to understand the current business climate?
Measuring these aspects of the strategy will help to analyze the company’s current approach to strategic evaluation and reveal if it is necessary to analyze it more often.
3. How effectively does your organization form and make profitable use of partnerships?
Partnerships can be helpful assets to your company, but they must actively be sought out and well-utilized.
4. If you were in charge of strategic planning for your organization, what changes would you make?
Asking your employees for their own ideas can not only provide interesting suggestions for future initiatives, but also can reveal any discontent with current strategy. With the high importance of strategic planning, it is crucial to ensure your company is creating analytical, actionable plans.
5. How efficient is your organization from an operational standpoint?
Determining operational efficiency can assist in revealing the reasons behind the success (or lack thereof) of your current strategy. By discovering the operational inefficiencies inhibiting success, your company can identify key process improvements.
6. How well does your organization utilize its people as an asset to help it improve, stay competitive, and strategically meet goals? Are people used efficiently or is talent wasted due to lack of effective strategy?
A major problem in many companies is a lack of utilization of existing resources, including the use of people and their particular strengths. Employing an effective strategy can better reveal the particular assets of your employees that can then be engaged to better the company overall.
7. How often does your organization analyze the competition in order to understand competitive advantages and disadvantages as well as identify areas for investment or needs for improvement?
Regular assessment of the competitive landscape is a crucial determinant of corporate strategy, and fine-tuning the frequency of this evaluation will help to reveal how your company’s doing in terms of competitor analysis.
8. How well does your organization strategically differentiate from the competition in terms of the capabilities of its product? How clear is your organization’s strategy for this?
This question helps to analyze and assess competition in a clear, specific way that will yield insight into the differentiation strategy.
9. How clear is your vision for what corporate responsibility should be like in your organization in the future? Is the direction that the organization wants to go in clear and understandable?
Clarity is an important part of strategic success, and this question can help determine the intelligibility of your strategy from the perspective of your employees.
10. Is our long-term view reflected in our short-term priorities? Are we pouring effort into initiatives today that have connections with where we expect ourselves and the market to be in the future?
Strategy without long-term perspective is useless, and clear, direct thinking about the future can help ensure the durability of your strategy.
11. Is your organization pursuing growth and new business/market development with as much passion as it does operational efficiency?
This question still addresses the importance of planning for the future, but also focuses on the sense of urgency for growth. Finding the balance between day-to-day operations and new developments is critical for your company’s future success.
12. How effective is your organization’s strategic vision?
A strategic vision involves a clear view of the desired future position of an organization within a market, giving your company a goal to plan around that, when implemented correctly, will produce results.
13. When developing and implementing strategy, does your organization effectively balance short and long-term priorities?
This question further addresses the balance between concentrating on daily operations and on future growth that must exist in your company.
14. How efficient and organized is your organization’s plan for how to improve and evolve the strategic objectives over time?
Just having a set plan for the future is not enough; it must be structured, logical, and well-communicated in order to help direct your company.
15. How do the potential negative consequences that could occur with the implementation of a new strategy compare to the potential positive outcomes?
If the results of these questions suggest that a new strategy is necessary, your company must ensure that this new plan will not cost your company more than it will benefit it. This return analysis helps to evaluate if the pros of new strategic implementations can outweigh the cons.
16. How many established outlets does your organization have through the Internet (social media, websites, etc.)?
By assessing the Internet outlets of your company, you can discover insight into how well your business is utilizing available online resources.
17. How many established connections to other businesses does your organization have?
Connections with other businesses can be used to create new partnerships and go-to-market opportunities, and therefore determining how many connections already exist for your company can help assess current strategy.
18. How many established connections does your organization have with consistent and dependable customers?
Customer advocates can be a lucrative avenue for your company to sell products and thus generate revenue, so determining the extent to which your company capitalizes on these relationships can help assess the effectiveness of your distribution strategy as a whole.
19. How effective is your organization’s delivery model?
Your company’s delivery model is the method for getting your offering to your customer, and a successful model is a key aspect of your go-to-market strategy.
20. How much potential benefit for the organization does the distribution strategy have?
It is crucial to determine the positive outcomes that the current distribution strategy permits in order to analyze if your company is effectively utilizing its delivery outlets.
21. Considering all possible outcomes, how much risk does the distribution strategy have?
On the other hand, it is important to determine the risk in this strategy. Answering these questions separately then comparing the results can help to fully analyze both sides of the issue.
22. To what degree are your offerings clearly differentiated in their market?
This question is important to ask in order to analyze how your company is distinguishing its products from that of competitors and thus working to permeate the market as much as possible. This type of question is important to ask when assessing your competition (see also #8), as well as when analyzing your product itself.
23. How much ease and expense is required for your customer to switch to a competitor’s offering?
It is important to understand product stickiness and customer switching costs to determine how your customer values your product.
24. How often does your organization analyze the competition in order to understand competitive advantages and disadvantages as well as identify areas for investment or needs for improvement?
This question can reveal whether or not your company is evaluating your competition often and in a thorough manner.
25. Based on your knowledge of current efforts to promote your services, what are the major internal barriers to selling your services to clients?
By determining impediments to selling services, your company can find ways to avoid these hindrances and strategise better as a whole.
26. How well does your organization maximize existing resources in order to deliver the product offering?
This question evaluates the method for getting your offering to your customer in order to reveal certain resources that your company could be better utilizing.
27. How aligned are your organization’s offerings to meet market demand?
Not only do you want to be producing the offerings that leverage your organization’s resources, but you also want to be delivering the right products for your target market.
28. Does your product offering encourage innovation for the customer through versatility, usability, and efficiency?
The more innovative your company’s offerings are, the more valuable they can be to your customers, for innovation is key in any product.
29. How well do the organization’s products solve the customers’ problems and meet their expectations?
Evaluate how your product meets the expectations of your customers in order to ensure the value in your offerings.
30. How frequently does your organization deliver new value-adding ideas to your customers to keep them engaged?
This question addresses how fresh your company is staying with your product and your customers, which is crucial in terms of retaining them as clients.
31. What is the direction and state of our innovations? Is the direction right for now, 5 years from now, and 10 years in the future?
A great tactic to use when analyzing the strategy of your company is to envision your product years from now and determine if your product roadmap is truly innovative.
32. Does your organization have several strategies for differentiation, innovation, customer alignment, and a detailed plan of forecasted strategies?
This multifaceted question assesses how well your company is planning for the future in terms of your offerings.
33. Considering factors such as competition and timing of discounts, does your organization provide the right amount of discounts and at the right price?
Discounting, when executed correctly, can be a great tactic to utilize, and this question addresses how well your company is using this strategy.
34. Does your organization’s pricing strategy match with the availability of your current resources?
This question addresses prime optimization, which is how well your organization prices its work in comparison to other organizations without forfeiting profit.
35. Does your organization promote itself through its people? Do the people actively promote your organization?
One of the greatest resources that many companies fail to use is their own people. Employees of an organization can be a company’s best proponents if they are actively and enthusiastically promoting the organization.
36. How effective is your organization at using product placement to subtly appeal to the customer?
Product placement deals with strategically implementing your offerings in context without advertisements, and can be a useful promotion strategy when employed correctly.
37. How often are your organization’s web strategies updated in order align with current organization news and capabilities?
Web strategy must be updated frequently in order to be useful to your company, and this question addresses the regularity of these revisions.
38. Is your organization’s website professional, visually pleasing, and effective at generating customer revisits?
Analyze your website design in order to determine if your company is fully optimizing its web presence.
39. How effective is your organization at ensuring loyalty of current customers by extending various incentives for loyalty to your offerings?
Loyalty marketing is a promotional tool that can help your strategic advancements, as long as the incentives are right for your market, customers, and product.
40. How often does your organization convert leads for potential sales into actual sales in the long run?
This question, though basic, must be asked in order to reveal any problems in your current sales strategy that could be modified in order to better your company’s sales overall.
We hope you find our list of strategic questions to ask your employees or yourself valuable and beneficial to your company. These questions represent a small sample of our diagnostic library that we draw upon when running 9Lenses diagnostics for our clients. Because each question tends to elicit an in-depth response, we tend to ask fewer questions per assessment so as not to overwhelm participants. Beyond asking the right questions, it’s important to involve the right set of stakeholders, to analyze the responses for new insights, and measure any changes in performance over time – all of which is possible with our platform.