4 Costly Strategic Planning Mistakes: How Many Are You Making?

Posted on: September 3, 2020, by :

Effective Planning Can Result in Progress

Many talented executives fail to fully appreciate strategic planning. The problem is they’ve not witnessed the progress that effective planning can help materialize. The unseen reason for their lack of optimism is minimal experience creating and implementing strategic plans. 

When strategic plans are created time is usually tight, with the goal of producing a plan on a timeline in addition to normal workloads. A lot of executives just want to get through the process as quickly as possible.

Strategic Planning Must Be Approached Intentionally

Strategic planning must be approached intentionally because engaging an organization creates risk if leaders are unprepared. A lack of preparation or even the appearance of it, can set a negative tone for the entire process. 

Broad organizational involvement creates opportunities to learn together and build community. With this in mind, leaders can use the opportunity to reinforce culture and gain support for challenging goals.


Because the strategic planning process is so detailed, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are four costly strategic planning mistakes to keep in mind as you develop your plans.

Not maximizing visionary leadership. In addition to setting the long-term vision for the organization, the leader should ensure more of an emphasis on innovative learning than on maintenance learning. The practice of maintenance learning addresses learning related to performance gaps and anticipated activities. It doesn’t address developing the skills and abilities needed to adjust rapidly to change, embrace failure as a means of learning, or how to use design thinking to rapidly make ideas a reality. Maintenance learning prepares us for adjusting to circumstances as they are, not how they will be.

Looking inward instead of outward. Changes in the external market should be anticipated. At the onset of the planning process, an environmental scan will prove critical to accurately assess the factors with the potential to impact planning. Organizations that fail to assess external conditions and potential, position themselves to miss opportunities to retain current customers, expand sales to existing customers, or acquire new customers.

Not investing in the resources needed to achieve goals. Too many times challenging goals are set without a thorough risk assessment or realistic estimate of the resources needed to achieve established goals. Failure to estimate resource needs can result in increased costs, conflict, or missed deadlines and opportunities.

Not securing buy-in. A failure to secure broad support for strategic plans can damage morale and performance. Leaders need to be change agents and effective marketers with domain level expertise who can synthesize large amounts of information and sell ideas throughout the organization.

The goal is to create a strategic plan that represents your organization’s aspirations. A clear and concise plan informed by data and created with stakeholder insight, positions your organization for progress. As you begin to work on your next strategic plan ask yourself, “how many of these costly strategic planning mistakes are we making?”


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