“Good planning is both a skill and an art,” says Marcelene Anderson. She should know. The president of Toronto-based Raven Strategic Consulting and a principal with the Centre for Strategic Management in San Diego, Calif., has worked with countless executive teams, formulating and implementing strategies that get results. Anderson has also seen her share of strategic plans that, despite good intentions, turned bad.
Here Anderson and Stephen Haines, president of the Centre for Strategic Management, reveal where strategic planning goes wrong:
Many groups jump into a planning process that isn’t thought out and is completely unstructured.
Half-hearted management commitment
More than half of strategic plans fail because there is no commitment from the top. Instead, the process is viewed as just another activity to be done and then crossed off the list, without proper implementation and monitoring.
Violating the “people support what they help create” principle
Some management groups create plans and are surprised when others do not share their enthusiasm for the plan; without input into the planning process, commitment is low.
Developing mission, vision, and value statements that lack substance
Without methods for measuring success, progress is virtually impossible to determine. Many organizations only measure financial progress, ignoring the key factors that result in financial success — employee and customer satisfaction.
Failing to integrate planning at all levels of the organization
When plans are not integrated at all levels, strategic misalignment and disconnection occur, resulting in a waste of time and resources.
Conducting business as usual after developing the plan
Creating a plan for the future is a waste of time if you do not intend to follow through. One of the most serious mistakes is to regard the strategic plan document as the end goal. Such plans have the SPOT Syndrome — Strategic Plan on Top Shelf — where they only collect dust.
Failing to keep the plan current
The most common mistake is treating strategic planning as a process separate from day-to-day management, not as a way to reinvent the way to do day-to-day business.