Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Strategic Planning - Implementation Roadblocks

One of the biggest frustrations in strategic planning is that great plans often fall short of expectations because of poor implementation. In Simplified Strategic Planning, we use several tools to improve the implementation rate of strategic objectives, one of which is the action plan. This Fall, I've taken another look at the issues companies have to deal with in implementation of action plans, and found there are four main reasons why action plans aren't completed on time:

1. Implementation is more difficult that planned
2. Resources are less than planned (especially time, and seldom money)
3. Objective is no longer appropriate
4. Priorities have changed

Which of these issues to you encounter in your strategic planning implementation?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Strategic Planning Book - a How-To Guide

Some readers of my blog may not be familiar with our incredibly helpful strategic planning book - "Simplified Strategic Planning - a No-Nonsense Guide for Busy People Who Want Results Fast". If you are involved in strategic planning, this book will help you in many ways. There are agendas, worksheets and hundreds of tips based on our 26 years doing strategic planning for hundreds of companies. No other strategic planning book is based on the sheer volume of experience represented in this book - and no other book gives such a clear, but detailed approach to how to do the strategic planning process.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Strategic Planning - Vision? Mission? Buzzword?

Often, when I am either doing strategic planning or conducting a seminar on strategic planning, someone will ask me if one of our worksheets (usually the strategies worksheet – page 5.4, or the mission statement – page 6.1) is like a “vision statement”, “mission statement” or some other buzzword. In general, people who ask such questions have read at least one or two books on strategic planning that use these terms. While I usually answer “yes”, the real answer is – it probably doesn’t matter.

Why would I say this? After doing close to a thousand strategic planning meetings, I can confidently say that terminology does NOT make good strategy. Quite the opposite, in fact – the more buzzwords you stuff into your strategic plan, the more I will worry that it’s not going to work. We use buzzwords in an attempt to solidify meaning around some fairly difficult and intangible concepts that are necessary to craft good strategy – but, at the end of the day, it is the quality of the strategy that matters, not whether you identify the components with the corrct buzzwords.

In practical terms, the things people are talking about when they talk about “mission” and “vision” have to do with how we think about where we are going, strategically. “Vision” should refer to where we are going – although sometimes people talk about “vision” as an intended future state. “Mission” generally refers to why we are going that way – that is, what role you intend your organization will take in society. In many cases, strategies (as used in Simplified Strategic Planning) do an excellent job of describing “vision”, while the mission statement codifies “mission” quite well.

For your own strategic planning, you should be aware that the process and its outcomes are more important that the terminology you use. One of the beauties of Simplified Strategic Planning is that all of the tools in the process have been tested, tweaked and re-worked over more than twenty-five years to produce tools that will help you generate great strategy regardless of the terminology.