6 Common Errors in Strategic Planning

This is the final post in a series on the leader and planning.  I originally studied these common errors and wrote about them several years ago.  But here is an abbreviated and updated version on this important topic.  You can find the complete article under my Print Resources tab.

Most strategic planning processes include at least six elements.  I will highlight each element as a header and the common mistake I see made when teams work on this particular element.

Vision-There is no common direction or passion among the team.  Vision, in my mind, comes from the intersection of four things—passions, dissatisfactions, a strong knowledge of your situation, and calling.  As I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of well honed team vision statement.  Most organizations already have a succinct mission statement.  Vision has to come from the heart.  Have different members of the team share their personal vision for the organization on a regular basis.  Let each person’s vision contribution seep into the team mentality and  become the corporate heart of the team.

Current Reality-The situational analysis lacks a brutal assessment of the facts.  The knowledge a team possesses is often way too vague to make good, strategic decisions. Instead a team will rely on a “sense” of what is true about the organization or the intended customer/audience.  Teams need quality statistical data and good soft people data to make sound decisions.  This is leading through information.  Do the hard work of gathering key facts before deciding on what is broken.

Critical Mass-There is low priority given to increasing organizational capacity.  Critical mass typically includes leaders, money, tools and good will.  This is your resource pool to accomplish your vision.  You have to take an honest look at what is and what you will need in these resource areas.  The continual growth of key resources has to be a central focus for any team.  You can’t out grow your resource base.

Critical Path Steps-There is a lack of specificity in defining CPS.  Critical Path Steps are the team recognized current problems or opportunities that, if solved, move the team significantly toward the vision.  These can’t be limitless.  They are usually few in number-but always high leverage and well defined.  If they are not well defined you will never know when they have really been solved.  Be as specific as you can.  State them as a solution.  Use action oriented verbs when you do so.

Resource Release-There is no true team execution to solve the identified problems.  I have stated before that a plan without execution is a total waste of time.  But this is where most teams fail.  To get to execution you have to include roles, goals, tools and time.  You have to clearly state who is the point person to see a strategy or tactic through.  You have to state the measurable goal of success.  You must allocate a certain amount of your resource pool towards this strategy and you must get the tactic into the calendar-either as an event or as a marked duration of time.  Without agreed upon, clear execution you will never see your vision realized.

Evaluation and Learning-Evaluation is only seasonal and therefore learning is lost in time.  The current business or ministry environment is one of constant change.  Teams have to be adaptable if they are to be effective.  That requires nimble, in time learning.  Evaluation and learning should be captured every time a strategy or tactic is completed.  This enables speedy changes if necessary.  Of course a leader could and should conduct periodic, seasonal evaluations with their teams.  But ongoing evaluation and learning is a must in todays world.

There is obviously much more that could be said.  But hopefully this gets you thinking.  What else have you found to aid you and your teams in the planning process?

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