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5 Reasons Why Most Strategic Planning Fails and What You Must do if You Want Yours to Succeed!

Imagine spending days in a room with people you may not care to know that well and then finding out later that it was all a waste of time because the plan is never implemented. This is what happens after many strategic planning sessions. Plans work when they engage your staff and create a framework that guides your team along the road to the brighter future you are envisioning. A plan doesn’t have to be complex, but having a strategic focus for the upcoming years can be a roadmap for your people in their jobs to improve outcomes for your customers and for your teams.

Here are 5 Reasons Strategic planning often fails and what you should do if you want yours to succeed.

1. There isn’t clear focused goals, with specific outcomes, and the reasoning why you want to achieve those goals. Often what is created in strategic planning are blurry goals that are well meaning but vague. Creating clear goals with specific outcomes enables us to see what we are trying to achieve. Often, we forget to identify and record the reasoning why we want to achieve those goals. As Simon Sinek has so aptly been repeated quoted,“People don’t buy what you do, they buy Why you do it.” This not only rings true in the market place but in your work environment as well. Clearly explaining why is more important than the strategy itself. Your team will continuously work to implement new and emerging strategies to achieve your goals if you explain why they are so important in the first place.

2. Once the planning has taken place there is often no alignment between the plan and day to day activities within the firm. Like we said most organizations create a plan and then shelve it. For effective strategic plans to be implemented, there needs to be alignment between the plan and day to day activities.

3. There is a lack of accountability to ensuring that strategy is followed. If you want to be successful you need to name people and positions that are responsible for ensuring the plan is going to be implemented.

4. There are no timelines and check-ins. For strategic planning to be effective, time must be set aside to review the progress. Without these frequent scheduled check-ins, the best laid plans are apt to fail because as soon as you get back to the office after your strategic retreat, another fire is there to be put out. Scheduling regular reviews refreshes your focus and reduces the chance that your plans will be derailed by short-term thinking to resolve immediate problems.

Strategic planning can be fun, it's great to throw some goals up against the wall like mud, and see what sticks, which is how most strategic planning is done. Unfortunately, when the mud dries, it drops off and is forgotten. If you want to be successful with your strategic plans, you may need to put as much effort into the implementation as you did into the imagination.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an Award Winning Business Coach and the Author of the book “ Profit Yourself Healthy” Feel like throwing mud? Email your dirt to


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