I recently attended a high school football game, and there was a chatty man behind me asking questions to his companion loudly in a way that smugly implied that he should be coach. “Why are they in the I formation again? Why do they keep blitzing Jones when Palmer is the better matchup with this offense? If they would go with a down blocking scheme, it would allow for better blocking angles on the defensive linemen.”

Meanwhile, on my other side was sitting my younger daughter, who had never been to a live football game before. She was asking a lot of questions too, but because she didn’t know the game her questions were random, many of which I had never thought about.

“Why is this called “football” when they don’t kick it very often like we do in soccer? Why don’t they wear pads on their shins? Why do they keep changing out the football? Why are the cheerleader skirts so short when they obviously don’t cheer better dressed like that? Why was the coach screaming so much when the player was obviously tired?”

It reminded me how important it is in the strategy world to include a wide variety of people in the process. Strategy sessions are most effective when you involve plenty of subject matter expertise and at least a few people with a fresh perspective.

The case for the expert is obvious. They tend to both keep you grounded and inform a deeper and more effective strategy.

The role that some teams lack is the fresh perspective. Having someone ask those seemingly random questions helps uncover blind spots and reduce group think. Sometimes the answer the team provides to the “why do we do it that way?” question isn’t very satisfying. Sometimes the most revolutionary ideas come from looking at things with a fresh eye.

The Nine Step methodology we teach includes multiple opportunities to include key stakeholders. Not only does this approach provide fresh perspective, but it gives employees and other stakeholders a voice in the process, which helps with buy-in and makes strategy execution more effective.

If you would like to learn more about the Nine Step approach to strategic planning, please consider our BSP certification program.

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David Wilsey is the Chief Executive Officer with the Balanced Scorecard Institute and co-author of The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard.

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