Critical success factors

Many planning frameworks (ours too) include the construct of critical success factors. Simply stated, critical success factors are those actions/factors which are necessary and sufficient to achieve the results anticipated by the plan. The key is necessary (do you really need to do this), and sufficient (if you do all them will you achieve the desired outcome).

One often overlooked issue around critical success factors is whether you are trying to achieve parity or gain an advantage. If you are trying to “catch up,” the critical success factors necessary to do that  are likely to be different from the critical success factors necessary to achieve an advantage.

Since advantage usually comes from what you deliver or how you deliver it, it is probable that the critical success factors necessary to do something new, or deliver it in a new way, will be different; and potentially harder to achieve than parity creating factors.

Since the competitive bar is always being raised, when you create your plan, and develop your critical success factors, ask the key question about the outcome you are trying to achieve: Is it parity or an advantage?


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