The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity – Douglas Horton

Strategy problems have a tendency to be complicated problems, and one hazard of being a strategic planning mercenary, is that stakeholders like to offload their issues like clothes destined for the charity shop – in assorted bags of stuff where quantity usually outweighs quality. I remember one client looking positively chilled out as he finished his stakeholder interview and turned to me and said ‘And you know what, Paul? If you think you understand our issues, you must be missing something’ and he smiled and handed me another health and safety challenging stack of documents.

We do, like water buffalo, enjoy strategic wallowing rather more than the bold definition of the big issue that really matters and on which we should actually focus our energies.

So the advice is: avoid getting lost in the dark mines of big data and be comfortable listing the top two or- at the most- three issues

Precept: Workshop Your Top Issues

List the top ten issues and then pick five; take the list and craft the top three; then start work-shopping the top three to see if you can now perceive an overarching theme, and with it potential lines of enquiry.

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