Failure Seems to Be an Option | 4 Reasons Strategic Plans Fail

Who says that failure is not an option? Anyone who works in the planning world will tell you, failure is a constant looming threat. I just read an article by Greg Bustin in Forbes titles, “Why Most Company Strategic Plans Fail” and he estimated that only 3% of executives say they’re successful at executing their strategies. I wasn’t a math major in college but wouldn’t that mean that 97% of strategic plans are considered failures? It’s a pretty scary to think that all of the planning efforts I witness everyday are all destined to fail. Failure IS an option but it’s your duty to reverse the trend on this depressing statistic.
Strategic Planning Building a Plan 4 reasons strategic plans fail Failure Seems to Be an Option | 4 Reasons Strategic Plans Fail Strategic Planning Building a Plan

Bustin outlines 4 reasons strategic plans fail:

1) Failing to hold one another accountable.

2) Getting too complicated.

3) Reluctance to address big issues

4) Belief that a budget is a plan.


I’ve touched on a number of these points in previous blog posts but I feel that the reluctance to address big issues is a vastly overlooked point. I’m not simply talking about not addressing the ‘elephants in the room’ aka huge business issues, I’m referencing the reluctance to address even minor issues such as timely reporting and formatting. I find that a ton of organizations give equal priority to how their plan is structured / viewed as they do for all other parts of the planning process including: accountability, update frequency, length. In large organizations there’s a fear around, “This is the way leadership expects to see the data and any deviation would be a problem.” This mentality would be ok if the execution / success percentage around strategic plans was higher than 3%.

If the time you spend on creating your plan is equal to the time you spend executing you’re setting yourself up for a tough situation. Bustin said it best, “Executing your plan will take everything you got.” Don’t’ be afraid on rocking the boat during your planning process. Experiment with new ways to shorten the plan creation cycle and transfer that energy into executing the items you’ve developed. Remember, that’s the most exciting part. Planning without execution would be like planning a vacation for 9 months and not going on the trip. That would be a crazy notion right? Then why would this be ok for your planning efforts?

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Joseph Krause
Joseph Krause
Joe Krause is currently the VP of Business Development at Achieveit. He serves as his client’s dedicated resource on strategic planning by providing a wide range of consulting services. In his spare time you can find him at the various restaurants in Atlanta or at Crossfit trying to work off those meals.