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Strategic planning is a vital part of delivering ongoing profitable growth and securing the future of any business. However, CEOs and executives frequently fall into traps that result in failing to deliver the results they were hoping for.
Trap #1:Only Big Companies Need Strategic Planning
No matter the size of your business, you need a sound strategic planning process.
Indeed, an efficient strategic planning process will allow you to thoroughly examine market mega trends, opportunities, and threats as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your business.
This analysis will help you craft a compelling vision, clear strategic initiatives, and a detailed execution and accountability plan to align the whole organization around specific metrics.
Without a clear roadmap, small, medium, and big companies will quickly lose their direction and focus in this VUCA (Volatile, Complex, Uncertain, Ambiguous) world.
Trap #2: It’s a Waste of Time
In many organizations, strategic planning sessions are reduced to long-winded philosophical discussions and vague conclusion statements (We will build a diverse culture; We will honor our customers, etc.) that will promptly be relegated to dusty binders or forgotten laptop folders.
The core of strategic planning is to clearly address the big strategic questions in order to build a concrete direction and plan that everybody from the top to the bottom of the organization can follow.
Trap #3: We Can’t Afford the Time or Money for Planning
Strategic planning doesn’t have to be stressful or costly. You can bring a good external coach/consultant/advisor to facilitate the discussions who has no agenda other than getting you results.
There are coaches and consultants for all types of budgets and goals, so as part of your due diligence prior to choosing the coach, seek out someone who has not only a coaching certification but also expertise in strategic planning.
Trap #4: Lack of Focus
During the strategic planning process, you will identify different initiatives that could support your overall vision, but don’t stop there. You must evaluate each of them and make tough decisions regarding which to cut and which to keep.
The bandwidth capacity of all organizations—even giant ones—is limited, so stick to three to five strategic initiatives centered around a big theme like Regional Expansion, International Expansion, Beat X, Win X, Be a talent magnet, etc.
If you fall into the trap of saying ‘yes’ to everything to avoid conflict, you might please everybody, but you aren’t likely to attain any impactful results.
Trap #5:Lack of a Detailed Execution and Accountability Plan
If you’ve avoided the four previous traps and you’re feeling confident in your compelling vision and clear strategic initiatives aligned with your top 3-5 priorities, you’ve accomplished much more than the majority, but you’re not done yet.
You still have to execute the plan, and execution is the missing link in many businesses. Startups are burgeoning around the world, built around amazing and disruptive ideas, but how many of them are really thriving three or five years later? Just a few of them, and that’s often due to execution challenges.
A successful strategic planning process must deliver a detailed execution and accountability plan, so each employee is clear on where to invest his/her time and how his/her work is contributing to the success of the organization.
The leadership team must also review the award system to align it with the strategic plan, assign the right resources (capital, training, technology, people), and implement a change management process in case big shifts are required.
Trap # 6: No Follow Up
Even executing the plan is still not enough to deliver results.
Remember, the end goal of a sound strategic process is a team that’s aligned, focused, committed to winning unapologetically in the market.
Once resources have been allocated, some initiatives have been taken off the plates of the employees, and the plan is launched, define a dashboard to analyze key performance indicators and a cadence (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) to review the progress and make fast adjustments if needed.
Do You Agree?
I would love to get your feedback about these traps. Do they reflect what you’ve been facing in your current strategic planning process? Do you see others? Are you happy with your current strategic planning process?
At New Skies Nation, we have a 3-part strategic planning process that is quick and easy and has been proven to make sure that strategy gets done. If you are interested, feel free to contact me.
As a courtesy, you can download free business assessments from our website to help you determine both the strength of your business and the strength of your strategic planning process.
Former tech executive Cindy Montgenie is the CEO of New Skies Nation. As a high-performance strategist, keynote speaker, and executive coach, Cindy helps business leaders to win in the disruptive digital era, without losing their sanity by using a game changer mindset.