9 Ways to Make This Strategic Planning Season Miserable

9 Ways to Make This Strategic Planning Season Miserable

'Tis the season for strategic planning! Are you excited? Are you drowning in spreadsheets and emails? The average strategic planning process is long and tedious. If you’re not average, here are nine ways you can ensure this year’s strategic planning season is exceedingly miserable.

Sign Up for More Meetings

Your goal during planning season should be to participate in as many meetings as possible. Try to attend all the meetings that involve just status updates from people. Aim to have as little whitespace as possible on your calendar. You might want to double-book yourself, just in case a meeting cancels. Just think: every ineffective meeting gives you one to two fewer hours in which to actually plan! And who needs more time?

Invite Everyone into Your InboxMiserable Strategic Planning Process #1: Invite Everyone into Your Inbox

Think you’ve got a lot of emails now? Wait until you really get going! Send an individual email to each person contributing to the plan, and ask for their opinion on initiatives, timelines, and associated key resources. Send another email asking for updates on how similar initiatives performed during the previous year, and another asking for proposed success metrics. You’ll never surface from under the email barrage again!

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Be Alternative-Format Friendly

Not everyone thinks the same, and your job as a manager is to respect that. This is particularly true when it comes to providing updates. Sure, Sally likes to provide her updates in PowerPoint and Tom gives his in Excel, and Luna may provide them in some form of alternative dance, but compiling data is your job. As one of the highest-paid people on your team, what better use of your time is there than to put everything into consistent formats? This also helps age the data, so that by the time you’re ready to present it to the leadership team, it’s slightly out-of-date.

Ignore the BudgetMiserable Strategic Planning Process #3: Ignore the Budget

The strategic planning process is often out of sync with the budget cycle, so this year, just stop trying to align the two. Try to plan first, so you can set really lofty, motivating targets. That way you’re not constrained by a lack of budget or resources for your plan! Dream big.

Hold No One Responsible

Don’t hold anyone accountable for the progress towards the plan. Instead, assign every initiative to a group of people. After all, you’re four times more likely to get an update when four people are working on it, right? This’ll make it extra exciting to gather progress updates next year – instead of chasing down an update from one person, you’ve got a whole group to chase down!

Set Vague, Incomprehensible TargetsMiserable Strategic Planning Process #5: Set Vague, Incomprehensible Targets

Rather than setting a highly-specific goal, try for vague, hazy ranges. If no one knows how they’re doing, they won’t feel bad about their lack of progress, and we all know morale is very important. Better yet, avoid setting a deadline. Employees who feel good and aren’t under any sort of time pressure are likely to complete projects…eventually.

Avoid Communicating the Plan at All Costs

You’ve finally completed the plan. It’s been grueling, but you’ve reached the end of the road. You feel like a warrior – battle hardened, exhausted, but accomplished. It’s imperative that you now take the plan, and lock it away where no one will ever see it. If employees don’t know what the plan is, and what the targets are, they can’t fail. It’s best to brush it off just before next year’s planning season. Consider taking bets as to how many initiatives were completed, since this is the first time anyone will find out. Offer prizes to people who even remember what the initiatives were.

Avoid Helpful Tools, Help or Guidance of Any KindMiserable Strategic Planning Process #7: Avoid Helpful Tools, Help or Guidance of Any Kind

Sure, you’ve been told that technology could encourage your team to send updates in a consistent format, remind your team when updates are due and help lay out your plan in a manner that aligns with strategy execution best practices. But that would suck all the fun out of the strategic planning process! It might even clear out your inbox, and eliminate some of those meetings you’ve worked so hard to set. Plus, if people actually started tracking progress towards goals, you wouldn’t be able to offer prizes for remembering the initiatives anymore. And what would you do with all the time you could have saved? Everyone knows higher-level thinking happens best when you’re too busy to breathe.

Tell Your Board About the Strategic Planning Process

Ideally, calculate exactly how much time and money your company wastes during the strategic planning process. Suggest to the board that your company stop planning altogether. If plans are just dusted off at some point three-quarters through the year, people aren’t held accountable for their execution and you spend most of your time gathering updates, what’s the point? If you really want to impress the board, make sure to tie every wasted hour to the salary of the involved team members, so they can really get an idea of how substantial the cost is.

Your Strategic Planning Process Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

All kidding aside, it doesn’t have to be this way. Strategic planning season is when the most important plans for your company’s future are crafted. It’s already a high-pressure time – do yourself a favor and don’t make it worse. AchieveIt can help. If you’re spending more than an hour a week gathering updates or compiling data, or end up with stale data by the time you’re done, AchieveIt can help. If you’re spending too much time in meetings that aren’t as efficient as they could be, AchieveIt can help. If you’re struggling with providing the big picture overview of how your company is performing, across locations, divisions, or business units, AchieveIt can help.


Meet the Author  Chelsea Damon

Chelsea Damon is the Content Strategist at AchieveIt. When she's not publishing content about strategy execution, you'll likely find her outside or baking bread.

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