I have facilitated countless workshops for executive teams. Sometimes we kick goals because the exec team have done their homework and really know their business and the challenges they face. They have done enough of the hard-smart work to know what they need to tackle and now they are working through the options and determining the best path forward.
Then there are the ones that have not done their homework. The formation of strategy appears based on hope or even wish rather than facts and consideration of well-articulated opportunity and risk.
A strategy is of itself a hypothesis. Something that is proved true or false over time. Further, a fantastic hypothesis starts with a critical question. Therein lies the biggest single failure an organisation can make with its strategy: Not taking time to identify the question that needs answering.
Like a Nobel Prize winning scientist who started with a hypothesis, the secret to a great strategy is asking the right question through hard analysis and creative thinking and then implementing through focused hard work. This process will shift a strategic plan from an aspirational wish-list to a creative pathway for you and your organisation to travel.