21 Questions You Need To Ask Of Your Business Right Now!

by Kevin Singarayar on August 16, 2008

in Business Strategy

Below, is an excerpt from the book, Com­pet­ing For The Future, by Gary Hamel and C.K. Pra­ha­lad.  It ties in nicely with my last post on SWOT Analy­sis.  You don’t want to make the mis­take of dis­miss­ing any­thing these two bril­liant minds on busi­ness strat­egy have to say as mel­liflu­ous poppycock.

From Com­pet­ing For The Future:

  1. Does senior man­age­ment have a clear and broadly shared under­stand­ing of how the indus­try may be dif­fer­ent ten years in the future?
  2. Are its “head­lights” shin­ing far­ther out than those of competitors?
  3. Is its point of view about the future clearly reflected in the company’s short-term priorities?
  4. Is its point of view about the future com­pet­i­tively unique?
  5. How influ­en­tial is my com­pany in set­ting the new rules of com­pe­ti­tion within its industry?
  6. Is it reg­u­larly defin­ing new ways of doing busi­ness, build­ing new capa­bil­i­ties, and set­ting new stan­dards of cus­tomer satisfaction?
  7. Is it more a rule-maker than a rule-taker within its indus­try? Is it more intent on chal­leng­ing the indus­try sta­tus quo than pro­tect­ing it?
  8. Is senior man­age­ment fully alert to the dan­gers posed by new, uncon­ven­tional rivals?
  9. Are poten­tial threats to the cur­rent busi­ness model widely understood?
  10. Do senior exec­u­tives pos­sess a keen sense of urgency about the need to rein­vent the cur­rent busi­ness model?
  11. Is the task of regen­er­at­ing core strate­gies receiv­ing as much top man­age­ment atten­tion as the task of reengi­neer­ing core processes?
  12. Is my com­pany pur­su­ing growth and new busi­ness devel­op­ment with as much pas­sion as it is pur­su­ing oper­a­tional effi­ciency and downsizing?
  13. Do we have as clear a point of view about where the next $10 mil­lion, or $1 bil­lion of rev­enue growth will come from as we do about where the next $10 mil­lion, $100 mil­lion, or $1 bil­lion of cost sav­ings will come from?
  14. What per­cent­age of our improve­ment efforts (qual­ity improve­ment, cycle-time reduc­tion, and improved cus­tomer ser­vice) focuses on cre­at­ing advan­tages new to the indus­try, and what per­cent­age focuses on merely catch­ing up to our competitors?
  15. Are com­peti­tors as eager to bench­mark us as we are to bench­mark them?
  16. What is dri­ving our improve­ment and trans­for­ma­tion agenda – our own view of future oppor­tu­ni­ties or the actions of our competitors?
  17. Is our trans­for­ma­tion agenda mostly offen­sive or defensive?
  18. Am I more of a main­te­nance engi­neer keep­ing today’s busi­ness hum­ming along, or an archi­tect imag­in­ing tomorrow’s businesses?
  19. Do I devote more energy to pro­long­ing the past than I do to cre­at­ing the future?
  20. How often do I lift my gaze out of the rut and con­sider what’s out there on the horizon?
  21. What is the bal­ance between hope and anx­i­ety in my com­pany; between con­fi­dence in our abil­ity to find and exploit oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth and new busi­ness devel­op­ment and con­cern about our abil­ity to main­tain com­pet­i­tive­ness in our tra­di­tional busi­nesses; between a sense of oppor­tu­nity and a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, both cor­po­rate and personal?

Now Rate Your Company

How does senior management’s point of view about the future stack up against that of competitors?

Con­ven­tional And Reac­tive ● Dis­tinc­tive and Far-sighted

Which issue is absorb­ing more of senior management’s attention?

Reengi­neer­ing Core Processes  Regen­er­at­ing Core Strate­gies

Within the indus­try, do com­peti­tors view our com­pany as more of a rule-taker or a rule-maker?

Mostly a Rule-taker  Mostly a Rule-maker

What are we bet­ter at. Improv­ing oper­a­tional effi­ciency or cre­at­ing fun­da­men­tally new businesses?

Oper­a­tional Effi­ciency New Busi­ness Development

What per­cent­age of our advantage-building efforts focus on catch­ing up with com­peti­tors ver­sus build­ing advan­tages new to the industry?

Mostly Catch­ing Up To Oth­ers  Mostly New to the Industry

To what extent has our trans­for­ma­tion agenda been set by com­peti­tors’ actions ver­sus being set by our own unique vision of the future?

Largely Dri­ven By Com­peti­tors Largely Dri­ven by our Vision

To what extent am I, as a senior man­ager, a main­te­nance engi­neer work­ing on the present or an archi­tect design­ing the future?

Mostly an Engi­neer Mostly an Architect

Among employ­ees, what is the bal­ance between anx­i­ety and hope?

Mostly Anx­i­ety  Mostly Hope

If your marks fell some­where in the mid­dle, or off to the left, your com­pany may be devot­ing too much energy to pre­serv­ing the past and not enough to cre­at­ing the future.1


  1. Excerpt taken from Com­pet­ing For The Future []

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