I’m always looking for ways to improve the strategic planning from a dreaded annual activity to a meaningful, helpful process.
Recently, I had the opportunity to read Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking by Rich Horwath. Rich has helped numerous companies and managers with the strategic planning process and evaluating strategic capabilities. I had the opportunity to talk with Rich about the most common mistakes leaders make.
“If your strategic plan isn’t driving daily activities, then you’ve wasted time doing the plan.” -Rich Horwath
3 Common Mistakes of Strategic Planning
Rich, you’ve worked on strategy both as the CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute and before that as a Chief Strategy Officer. What are the most common mistakes you see in strategic planning?
There are typically three mistakes when it comes to strategic planning.
Mistake #1: Confusing strategy with other planning terms.
The first is the group not having a universal understanding of what strategy is and how it differs from other key planning terms such as mission, vision, goals, objectives and tactics. There’s a tremendous lack of precision when it comes to strategic planning and that starts with the fundamental building blocks.
Mistake #2: Regurgitating last year’s plan.
The second is that most plans are simply a regurgitation of last year’s plan. This is because managers don’t think before they plan. I’m a big believer that new growth comes from new thinking. If you don’t take time and tools to generate new insights, then don’t expect your group to perform any better than the year before, or the year before that.