Ten Fatal Sins of Strategic Planning

 Strategic planning can be challenging for any business. Below are ten of the most common errors committed during the planning process. While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, hopefully it will prompt some debate around the conference table at the next management meeting. Avoid the following and your planning will be “saved.”

1. Implementing weekend retreats only once yearly to talk about strategy. A once a year, one-day session is not enough time to develop a strategy.

2. Viewing strategy as a “diet.” Strategic planning is not a diet…it is a “lifestyle.” Make the strategic process a part of your management process. It should become a part of the way you make decisions every day, not just once a year.

3. Developing vision, mission, and/or value statements as “fluff.” Avoid generic statements. Make statements unique to your business…who you are, what you do best, and where you want to go.

4. Vision without action. Failing to develop a specific, comprehensive action plan is one of the most serious sins of strategic planning. It is the single most important piece of the process, outside of designing a viable and realistic strategy.

5. Failing to involve your employees in developing the action plan. People support what they help create; involve your employees in the process, so they know it is their plan.

6. Failing to integrate planning at all levels. Planning should be a part of everyone’s agenda. The action plan will draw employees into the process, hold them accountable, and help ensure there is alignment with the strategy

7. Conducting business as usual after strategic planning. It is so much easier to do things the way they were always done. If you have invested time and money in developing strategic plans, don’t let them end up on the shelf collecting dust.

8. Lacking a scorecard or measuring what is easy rather than what is important. Metrics, either qualitative or quantitative, help everyone in the organization track progress. The right metric will keep everyone focused on the task at hand.

9. Neglecting to benchmark against competitors. Watch your back or someone will surprise you. Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What do they do that you don’t do? What do you do better? How can you sustain your competitive advantage?

10. Failing to make the tough choices. Strategic planning requires “TLC” – time, leadership and courage to change. It’s easier to maintain the status quo, but leadership requires tough choices for the good of the organization. This takes time and courage.