Why strategic planning fails and how to make yours succeed

Put as much effort into the implementation as you did into the imagination

David FullerImagine spending days in a room with people you may not care to know that well and finding out later it was all a waste of time because the plan you decided upon is never implemented. This happens after many strategic planning sessions.

Plans work when they engage your staff and create a framework that guides your team along the road to the brighter future you envision.

A plan doesn’t have to be complex, but having a strategic focus for upcoming years can be a roadmap for your staff to improve outcomes for your customers and your teams.

Here are four reasons that strategic planning often fails and what you should do if you want yours to succeed.

There aren’t clear, focused goals, with specific outcomes and reasoning behind wanting to achieve those goals

Often what’s created in strategic planning are well-meaning but blurry and vague goals. Creating clear goals with specific outcomes enables us to see what we’re trying to achieve.

Often we forget to identify and record why we want to achieve those goals. As author Simon Sinek so aptly said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

This rings true in the marketplace and your work environment. Clearly explaining why is more important than the strategy itself. Your team will continuously work to implement new and emerging strategies to achieve your goals if you explain why they’re so important in the first place.

Once the planning has taken place, there’s often no alignment between the plan and day-to-day activities within the firm.

Like we said, most organizations create a plan and then shelve it.

For effective strategic plans to be implemented, there needs to be alignment between the plan and day-to-day activities.

There’s a lack of accountability to ensure the strategy is followed

If you want to be successful, you need to name people and positions that are responsible for ensuring the plan is going to be implemented.

There are no timelines and check-ins

For strategic planning to be effective, time must be set aside to review the progress. Without these frequent scheduled check-ins, the best-laid plans are apt to fail because as soon as you get back to the office after your strategic retreat, another fire is there to be put out.

More advice on running your business

Scheduling regular reviews refreshes your focus and reduces the chances that your plans will be derailed by short-term thinking to resolve immediate problems.

Click here to downloadStrategic planning can be fun. It’s great to throw some goals up against the wall like mud and see what sticks. That’s how most strategic planning is done.

Unfortunately, when the mud dries, it often drops off and is forgotten.

If you want to succeed with your strategic plans, you may need to put as much effort into the implementation as you did into the imagination.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. Feel like throwing mud? Email your dirt to dave@pivotleader.com. For interview requests, click here.


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