Strategic Issue Management

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The concept of strategic issue management first emerged when practitioners of corporate strategic planning realized a step was missing between the SWOT analysis of the Harvard model and the development of strategies. That step was the identification of strategic issues. Strategic issue management approaches are process components or pieces of the larger strategic planning process. This approach is primarily associated with Ansoff (1980) and focuses attention on the recognition and resolution of strategic issues - "forthcoming developments, either inside or outside the organization, which are likely to have an important impact on the ability of the enterprise to meet its objectives." Many firms now include a strategic issue identification step as part of full-blown strategy revision exercises, and also as part of less comprehensive annual strategic reviews (King 1982). However, annual revision has proved impractical. Therefore, most firms undertaking comprehensive strategy revisions several years apart (typically five) and in the interim are focusing their annual strategic planning processes on the identification and resolution of a few key strategic issues that emerge from SWOT analyses, environmental scans (Hambrick 1982, Pflaum and Delmont 1987) and other analyses. Moreover, many important issues emerge too quickly to be handled as part of an annual process; because a separate, quick response is necessary. The strength of the approach is its ability to recognize and analyze key issues quickly. The weaknesses of the approach is that no specific advice is offered on exactly how to frame the issues other than to precede their identification with a situational analysis of some sort.
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