5 Strategic Planning Myths

In certain industries, the emphasis on creating strategic plans continues to grow. As regulations tighten, industries like healthcare, government, and education are becoming required to create plans to document where funding is allocated and ensure funds are utilized properly. But with this mandate in some industries, others are still miles behind in creating strategic plans. And regardless of the industry, plans miss the mark time and time again, leaving extreme amounts of time and money wasted on failed execution.

In working with hundreds of clients across thousands of plans, we at AchieveIt have seen plans both succeed and fail. We have also had the opportunity to communicate with numerous individuals in the strategic planning space on how they plan, what works, and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t work. Based on these insights, I’ve identified 5 key strategic planning myths that organizations often believe to be true. These myths are widespread and are likely culprits in failed plans.

As you are wrapping up last year’s plan and planning for the new, make sure these strategic planning myths are not closely followed:

1. Planning should be conducted by executives and boards

Does your strategic planning process resemble Moses coming down with the 10 commandments? If so, it needs to be changed. One of the biggest reasons strategies fail is due to a lack of adoption. Your people are the key to successful adoption and it’s critical to involve them in the change process. At AchieveIt, we refer to this as Participative Execution. Include employees in the strategic planning process to connect them with organizational goals and increase their investment in plan execution.

2. Strategic plans should be developed and managed by each division

While plan development should involve individuals from each division, planning, and managing in silos will often disappoint. I’ve seen numerous organizations that have previously created and managed individual plans by division, group, or service line. In nearly every case, they lacked true direction because they had no organizational mission or strategy to follow.

Additionally, these organizations often find out too late that initiatives require resources from multiple divisions. An approach with silos leads to wasted resources and poor communication, neither of which are ideal for strong execution. Instead, create an overarching strategic plan for the organization with inputs for divisional strategic plans. Include individuals from different divisions in the strategic planning process to ensure everyone is aligned and on board with the organizational goals.

3. An operational plan is a good replacement for a strategic plan

Operational plans are incredibly helpful. They drive monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily actions, but they are NOT a replacement for a strategic plan. An operational plan should drive company operations and help “keep the lights on.” Your strategic plan is meant to drive the direction your organization navigates over the next 1-3 years. If your organization uses both, connect them together and ensure alignment from one plan to the next. This will focus resources in the proper areas and make execution easier and ensure that you strive for future success while operating effectively from day to day.

4. Your strategic plan should be perfect before rollout

In my experience, organizations spend way too long on creating the perfect plan. They invest time, money, and resources into long strategic planning processes. After they finish, they often either refuse to make changes or forget about actually implementing the plan. While it’s important to protect your plan from endless changes, your plan should change over time to adjust for resource restrictions, market changes, and more.

As for the planning to implementation/execution connection, think of it as a multiplication exercise. The quality of the plan times the quality of execution results in your final results. If you have a plan that’s a 10, but an execution level of a 1, your result is only 10. But if you can create a plan that’s only a 5 and execute only at a level 5, your result is 25 – much higher success than the “perfect plan.” The goal is to focus on both planning AND execution to optimize success.

5. Our strategic plan is just a binder that collects dust

Unfortunately, this has become the situation for too many organizations, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Your strategic plan should be a living, breathing document that drives the future of your organization. It should collect updates from individuals across divisions and influence the strategic decisions of the leadership team. For most organizations, this process is extremely difficult which is why AchieveIt has made it easy to collect updates, monitor progress, and execute effectively.

Give Your Strategic Planning Process a Boost with AchieveIt

Has your organization and planning been impacted by any of these myths? Our hope is that you can learn from the successes and failures of other organizations to improve execution. If #5 is holding you back, let us know and we can show you how thousands of plans are successfully executed through AchieveIt.

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