Mike Dale argues that in spite of the vast literature on strategy, strategy remains a difficult and elusive leadership task. Mike argues that strategic management differs from operational management in terms of processes, skills and mental outlook. In this paper he concentrates on one of those aspects: the process of strategy formation. He offers his issue-driven approach to strategy formation as a tried and tested way forward. His starting point is one of defining what he means by an issue. An issue can be a problem, an opportunity, uncertainly or controversy. He argues that this definition provides a mechanism for collecting up what is really happening in the business. It also provides an ability to handle the politics within businesses. Strategy formation is a highly political process.
After some filtering of all the issues identified, the next stage of the approach is to carefully define the issues with careful use of language. This issue definition activity is the part of the process that is most testing but also most productive. Mike argues that if we make the effort to share our perspectives and assumptions, check for evidence and then produce a definition that everyone can sign up to, we will achieve a huge step forward both in terms of clarity in thinking and in team alignment. It means that in at the issues resolution stage of the process, some solutions are obvious since such clarity has been brought to the matter.