We’ve all got big plans. Lots of them. Our businesses, organizations and communities have plans ranging from simple business plans to comprehensive growth plans and from fundraising plans to economic development plans.
Yet despite all the plans, we’re making less and less progress towards our goals. Lack of funding, lack of people and lack of time are what gets the blame when plans fail to deliver results.
So what’s really wrong with planning?
Consider the Law of Inertia
Physics’ law of inertia makes clear that an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion. In applying this theory to what’s wrong with current planning practices, our company believes:
Strategic planning has been mistaken as the “force” that puts a plan (the object) in motion. That is simply not true.
In reality strategic planning is not the force, but rather the process of creating the object. A successful strategic planning process is only complete when implementation (aka a “force”) is initiated. This mistake is why so many planning documents are just an object perpetually at rest.
6 Common Planning Mistakes
Here are a list of the six most common mistakes we see in planning:
- PPV – You assumed we were talking about Pay-Per-View didn’t you? Gotcha. This acronym is even more expensive. It’s called Pay-Per-Verb. Strategic plans have become crazy long and we can only assume that either you’re charged by the verb or you equate length with greatness. War & Peace may very well have been an excellent novel, but Dr. Seuss likely has had greater impact on you and your children. Impactful, memorable and successful plans keep an eye on brevity.
- The Statue of David tries Cirque de Solei – Many strategic planning processes take too long in an effort to produce masterpieces, making them inflexible and unable to adapt to change. Could you imagine the Statue of David trying to perform Cirque de Solei? Great plans are nimble, adaptive and toe the line between what’s possible and what’s impossible.
- A Chorus of Crickets – Stakeholders: your employees, your investors, you community. They are a fundamental element of any strategic planning process and ultimately the key to successful plan implementation. But there are different kinds of stakeholders and if the stakeholder portion of strategic planning is not managed correctly, you’ll have a room full of crickets. Which depending on your geography could be a euphemism for either silence or a cacophony of chirping. Stakeholder selection, stakeholder roles and expectations, and stakeholder participation need to be defined prior to initiating a strategic planning process and monitored throughout.
- Christmas at My House – Everyone present on Christmas morning in my house gets presents. Probably too many of them. Many organizational and community strategic planning processes lose focus when they try and make their plan a wish list for Santa that is neither realistic or sustainable. This may make the process of planning go smoothly, but it can quickly start to feel like buyer’s remorse when you get the first bill.
- The Lost and Bound – If your strategic plan is so great that it needs a binder to hold it’s contents in place, you’ve failed. Your plan needs to be found, adopted and championed by your employees, your investors, your community (aka “stakeholders”). In today’s world big binders of stuff are great paperweights, but nobody is going to read them or rally around them. Your plan needs to be discernible and digital friendly. Because if the plan isn’t clear or present, your results are in danger.
- Only Fine Wines Age Well – Too often we see communities go through 9-18 months of process to create a five year plan. Five years! That’s an eternity given the pace at which technology is exponentially changing (See: Technology Changed the Game). If five year economic plans couldn’t work for the USSR when there were fewer variables impacting the outcome, it’s clear that lengthy planning exercises and rigid planning horizons in today’s world only limit the ability of your business, organization or community to adjust to change and embrace innovation. Great plans reflect the inevitable reality of change and are conditioned to embrace and evolve to meet each new challenge.
We want to help you succeed. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your next strategic plan and its implementation.