Strategic Planning Gets a Bum Rap

It is a new year and you should have at least dusted off your strategic plan.  Have you pulled all your business metrics for the year and identified where you need to focus some attention?

I have seen people cringe at the mention of strategic planning and I think that this process is getting a bum rap.  Strategic planning is made up of 4 critical sub-processes; GAP Analysis to determine your starting point, documenting the vision to define your goal, identifying resources needed (based on the GAP and the vision), and defining the balanced score card to understand how to track progress.  Most of the time there is one of these elements that is not understood and therefore causing all kinds of frustration.  These four elements are all needed to create a strategic plan.  It can be that the group does not want to spend time doing one or more of the elements or that they do not see the need for one of them.  Without some attention on all four elements the strategic plan will not be complete.  Instead of a five or ten year plan you get a plan that is obsolete in a few weeks or never followed at all.

Maybe the problem is much more basic than that. Perhaps you just don’t see any need for a plan, so why waste any time looking at the old plan.  Business managers are often so preoccupied with immediate issues that they forget about their vision. That’s why a strategic plan is so useful. This may not guarantee success, but without it your business is much more likely to fail.

To get a good plan that is worth the effort put into it, you should go through the full process.  To have a plan that produces a positive return on investment you have to implement it.  This should be a long range plan with a useful and valid set of defined goals and measurements.  There is nothing wrong with refining the plan as new information is generated, but don’t waste time creating a notebook that will never be opened.