Henry McLeish has called on club boards and fans to play an active role as he launched a "thorough and extensive" review of Scottish football.
The former First Minister aims to create a "national conversation" as he examines youth development and assesses the facilities and resources of clubs.
He is also expected to consider a merger for Scottish football's three main governing bodies.
League reconstruction and a winter break may also come under review.
McLeish, a player with East Fife in his youth, insisted his work would differ from a think-tank group assembled in the 1990s, which fizzled out without making any fruitful contribution to the health of the game.
"In Scotland we can't buy our way to success but we can build our way to success," said McLeish. "That will be the theme of the initial phases of the review.
"I've had the privilege of playing on the foothills of Scottish football and have the practical involvement.
"There was concern expressed when the announcement was made about whether this will be another think-tank with a group of lofty people going away, bringing back a report and you don't see much after it.
"One thing this is not going to be is that."
A report on phases one and two is expected by the end of January 2010. Work on phase three will begin after this, and a series of recommendations will be made.
"There is no single issue that touches the psyche of Scots more than football," Mr McLeish added.
I want to establish a national conversation for football which will be the talk of the terraces
"But, as a nation, we want to seek new challenges and get to a point where we consistently arrive and qualify for every tournament we are involved in.
"You will have heard of Alex Salmond's national conversation in politics; I want to establish a national conversation for football which will be the talk of the terraces."
The game's three governing bodies - the Scottish Football Association, the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League - will be consulted by McLeish and used as a "sound board" throughout the process.
And they will have the final say on whether any of McLeish's proposals are implemented.
"The authorities have decided that we can do better. They want me to take independent advice from Scotland and to report back to them.
"I am in no doubt that my report will be very thorough, extensive and inclusive.
"This is not just a review for the three authorities that run the game in Scotland, this is a review for the future of the game - and that involves everyone."
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