Rex C. Mitchell, Ph.D.
It is useful to consider strategy formulation as part of a strategic management process that
comprises three phases:
diagnosis, formulation, and implementation.
Strategic management is an
ongoing process to develop and revise future-oriented strategies that allow an organization to
achieve its objectives, considering its capabilities, constraints, and the environment in which it
(a) performing a situation analysis (analysis of the internal environment
of the organization), including identification and evaluation of current mission, strategic objectives,
strategies, and results, plus major strengths and weaknesses; (b) analyzing the organization's
external environment, including major opportunities and threats; and (c) identifying the major
, which are a small set, typically two to five, of major problems, threats, weaknesses,
and/or opportunities that require particularly high priority attention by management.
, the second phase in the strategic management process, produces a clear set of
recommendations, with supporting justification, that revise as necessary the mission and objectives
of the organization, and supply the strategies for accomplishing them.
In formulation, we are trying
to modify the current objectives and strategies in ways to make the organization more successful.
This includes trying to create "sustainable" competitive advantages -- although most competitive
advantages are eroded steadily by the efforts of competitors.
A good recommendation should be:
effective in solving the stated problem(s), practical (can
be implemented in this situation, with the resources available), feasible within a reasonable time
frame, cost-effective, not overly disruptive, and acceptable to key "stakeholders" in the
It is important to consider "fits" between resources plus competencies with
opportunities, and also fits between risks and expectations.
There are four primary steps in this phase:
Reviewing the current key objectives and strategies of the organization, which usually
would have been identified and evaluated as part of the diagnosis
Identifying a rich range of strategic alternatives to address the three levels of strategy
formulation outlined below, including but not limited to dealing with the critical issues
Doing a balanced evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives relative to
their feasibility plus expected effects on the issues and contributions to the success of the
Deciding on the alternatives that should be implemented or recommended.
In organizations, and in the practice of strategic management, strategies must be
to achieve the intended results.
The most wonderful strategy in the history of the world is useless if
not implemented successfully.
This third and final stage in the strategic management process
involves developing an implementation plan and then doing whatever it takes to make the new