I’m a big fan of coming home from work, cooking dinner and curling up with a good article about strategic planning. Luckily for me there’s always something new and interesting to learn and Bill Converly’s Forbes article is a perfect example of that. He wrote an article titled, “3 Strategic Planning Pitfalls” that highlights some very real world examples of issues that occur during the strategic planning process. As always, I feel I can add to the list, just slightly, to really bring all the points home.
The three pitfalls Conerly covers are: Avoiding “No,” Not connecting to actions, and vague action steps. Avoiding no speaks to some organizations taking on more than they can realistically accomplish during a planning cycle. Not connecting to actions revolves around not taking the ideas you’ve developed in your planning retreat and not pulling through the work that needs to be done. Avoiding vague action steps highlights that many organizations will create goals that are all fluff hence giving them no real chance of completion.
When I read about these three pitfalls I found myself nodding along in agreement because I see these pitfalls every single day. The piece that I would add to this list is that you need to do more than just define realistic action steps but you need to quantify success whenever possible. When you tie a number to a goal you’re now defining what success looks like. All the action steps should come easy once you know what you’re trying to accomplish. Quantifying a goal eliminates and vagueness and forces you to pick realistic targets. If you need to change the number because you’ve over or under estimated the opportunity, that’s ok, but don’t skimp on this step because it’ll make you a much better planner. Not defining a number is a pitfall. Use this knowledge with the other three pitfalls listed in Converly’s article and you’ll create an amazing plan!