Issue Briefs for Better Strategy

In organizational life, there is always the need to understand and anticipate the future reality that will inevitably come to pass. The organizations that build effective strategies for the future are the ones who gain strategic advantage and enjoy long-term success. Organizations need to have a strategy (Ackerman, 2011), the question lies in the quality of the strategy. Too often the developed strategy of an organization fails to affect the real activities of an organization because it does not influence the way people think and act in relation to the coming future (Ackerman, 2011). A strategy must represent the confluence of ideas and actions that are to thrive in the future environment in front of them (Hughes et al., 2013), however, there must be a degree of clarity regarding that future environment.

This is where an issue brief comes in. In order to gain clarity on the coming future reality, organizations need to position themselves as continual learning engines (Hughes et al., 2013). The purpose of an issue brief is to provide clear and concise information regarding an emerging issue so organizational leaders can understand how the issue will affect the organization, if at all (Ashley & Morrison, 1995). This insight should inform the organizational strategy components such as vision, directions, and tactics for navigating the coming future (Hughes et al., 2013). An issue brief allows organizational leaders to surface issues that will require their attention and helps them understand enough to formulate a strategy by deciding where to focus attention to create the future they desire rather than simply reacting (Ackerman, 2011).


Ashley, W. C., & Morrison, J. L. (1995). Anticipatory management: 10 power tools for achieving excellence into the 21st century. Leesburg, Va.: IAP.

Eden, C., & Ackermann, F. (2011). Making Strategy: Mapping Out Strategic Success (Second Edition edition). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Hughes, R. L., Beatty, K. C., & Dinwoodie, D. L. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader: your role in your organization’s enduring success (Second edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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