As a coach, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss strategies with many of my coachees. What I’ve often found is that these strategies tend to resemble more of a vision or a mere list of goals rather than a comprehensive plan of action. While having a clear vision and setting goals are important, they are just the starting point. A truly effective strategy requires much more - it’s about how you’re going to achieve those goals and bring that vision to life. This brings us to the essence of what makes a good strategy: diagnosis, guiding policy, and a set of coherent actions. Let’s delve into these core elements to understand how you can transform your vision and goals into a robust, actionable strategy.

1. Diagnosis: Understanding Your Challenge

Your first task in strategic planning is to diagnose the situation comprehensively. This means taking a deep dive into the current conditions and challenges your organization or team faces. Think of it as a doctor assessing a patient: you need a clear picture of what’s going on before you can treat it.

Key Elements of Diagnosis:

  • Analyzing the Environment: Look outside your organization. What are the market trends, competitive dynamics, and economic conditions affecting you?
  • Assessing Internal Capabilities: Take an honest look inside. What are your strengths, weaknesses, resources, and competencies?
  • Identifying Key Issues: Pinpoint exactly what’s impacting your performance or could affect your future success.

A thorough diagnosis doesn’t just outline “what is happening”; it seeks to understand “why it is happening,” setting the stage for a more targeted strategy. Don’t accept your diagnosis before you are sure to know the answer to the question “what’s going on here?”

2. Guiding Policy: Establishing Your Approach

After understanding the challenge, your next step is to define your guiding policy. This is your game plan for tackling the issues you’ve identified. It’s about setting the boundaries and direction for your decision-making.

Components of a Guiding Policy:

  • Defining Core Principles: What values and principles will guide your actions and decisions?
  • Setting Objectives: What exactly do you aim to achieve in both the short and long term?
  • Determining Scope: Where will you focus your efforts? And - equally important - what will you NOT do?

Your guiding policy should be clear and concise, offering direction without dictating the exact actions to be taken.

3. Coherent Actions: Implementing Your Strategy

Finally, the strategy comes to life through a set of coherent actions. These are the specific steps you’ll take to follow your guiding policy and address your challenges.

Characteristics of Coherent Actions:

  • Alignment with Policy: Ensure each action contributes directly to your guiding policy.
  • Feasibility and Realism: Can you realistically carry out these actions with the resources and capabilities at your disposal?
  • Synergy and Coordination: Ensure that your actions complement and reinforce each other for a unified effort.

This phase involves detailed planning, allocating resources, and setting timelines and milestones. Remember, it’s crucial to monitor and adjust these actions to keep them effective and relevant.


In essence, the heart of a good strategy involves a clear diagnosis, a guiding policy, and a set of coherent actions. This framework is not just about creating strategies but ensuring they are effectively executed. By methodically addressing each component, you can navigate complex challenges, seize opportunities, and guide your organization or team towards sustained success.

Remember, a strategy is a living entity; it needs continuous evaluation and adaptation. As situations change, so should your strategy, always keeping the principles of diagnosis, guiding policy, and coherent actions at its center.

I will take a deeper dive into each of the three steps in future posts.