Zenith Strategy Associates

The Four Week Strategic Review

A Practical Guide to Rapid High-Impact Strategy Development

Value Creation through Strategy

What is a strategy review?

A strategy review is a process to identify new value-creating opportunities within a business. It could be about improving the performance of an existing division. Or it could be about taking advantage of a new market adjacency opportunity.

It is also an opportunity to step back from day-to-day operations. You can assess the strategic foundations on which the business is built.

It therefore needs to be a clear fact-based analysis of the business opportunity or issue.

When should you undertake a strategy review?

Many companies undertake strategic reviews on an annual basis as part of their strategic planning process.

Other businesses will undertake them on a more ad hoc basis. For instance, when presented with a specific opportunity or problem within the business.

Furthermore, a change of ownership or appointment of a new CEO can often trigger the need for a strategic review of the business. It can be a great way to clarify key areas of opportunity and challenges within the business.

What are the outcomes of a strategic review?

It should lead to a clear set of strategic recommendations. The review should also set out a future roadmap for the business. This roadmap charts the course for the business. This helps enable increased and sustained performance now and for the future.

Delivering a strategic review

Start with the answer

Strategic reviews are often undertaken under considerable pressure to get to an answer rapidly. Every day needs to count. Moreover, you can’t afford to spend time on research or analysis that doesn’t make the final cut.

The leading strategy firms therefore adopt a hypothesis-led approach to strategy formulation. For instance McKinsey’s Decision Tree or Bain’s Answer First approaches.

Be 80/20

When operating under a severe time constraint, it is critical to be 80/20 in undertaking new analysis.

You should be targeted in your data gathering and research. You can achieve a lot in a short space of time. An online survey to your key customers can be quick to set up. But can yield valuable insights.

You probably can’t build an in-depth financial model in 4 weeks. But you can do some high-level modelling of the main financial levers of your business.

Allocate dedicated project resources for the review

A good strategic review takes dedicated focus. It’s important to step away from the day-to-day distractions of the job.

We find we achieve our best results working in mixed consulting / internal teams. For example, with internal team members seconded to the project for the length of the review.

Allow enough time to capture and document the key findings

It takes time to distil complex strategic analysis into a clearly presented and logically structured report.

You should therefore start planning well in advance of the final week. Aim to have an initial draft outline developed by the end of week 1.

Having the end output in mind early on also helps to maintain an 80/20 focus. It can help for example to clarify the key analysis that will be required.

Build in time to think about the implementation

A strategic review is a waste of time unless it is accompanied by a clear call to action and plan of attack. It therefore needs to set out clearly how the strategy will be delivered.

Within a four week timeframe, you can’t set out a detailed implementation plan. But you can develop a high-level view of the implementation roadmap. Above all, this should set out the key initiatives and the expected timeframe.

This can bring the strategy to life and get people to buy into it.


A strategic review is a structured process to evaluate the external environment and internal context of a business in order to define the optimal positioning and operating model for the future.

Companies can spend months on a strategy that is out-dated almost as soon as it is finalised. With a clear structured approach and 80/20 mindset, a clear strategy and future roadmap can be completed in as little as four weeks.

A strategic review should include a review of the market, your strategic positioning, your internal organisation and processes, and a high-level financial assessment of the outlook for the business.

Benefits include clarity over the drivers of strategic advantage, alignment within the organisation on the future roadmap for the business, and improved financial outcomes.

The Four Week Strategic Review

" A strategic review should be a fact-based analysis of the business opportunity leading to a clear set of strategic recommendations and future roadmap for the business..."
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The Four Week Strategic Review Report

For the first time, insights from more than 20 years of experience in strategy development have been collated in this essential guide to conducting a strategic review.

  • Benefits of a structured approach to strategy development.
  • Typical scope of a strategic review.
  • Key principles to follow when undertaking a strategic review.
  • Indicative timeline and workplan for completing a strategic review in 4 weeks.
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Useful links

Conducting A Strategic Review: An Elite Consultant’s Ultimate Guide Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies
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