Don't Be Afraid of Strategic Planning

October 4, 2023
# min read
Janice Giannini

Emotions drive most peoples’ actions; we don’t like admitting that. We want to believe that reason and logic drive our business decisions. And in some cases, that is true.

There is one case where that needs to be on point. That case is the “job” of strategic planning. Why does it strike fear in the hearts of some? Let’s get the easy answer out of the way; it takes a lot of time and resources and is not fun.

There are many tools to assist with developing the Plan, so we don’t need to focus on that. Discussing the uncomfortable and risky part of the job is our intent.

The reality is that no one has a crystal ball, and there can be severe consequences for making the wrong choice, no choice, or missing the window of opportunity.

Looking through a critical lens might help us focus on the uncomfortable part of the job versus staying in our collective comfort zone.The questions are simple, but the answers are not.

· First, we must understand our collective comfort zone, which typically surfaces in conversations about what we do and don’t control. This causes us to entertain the most appropriate balance point, even if we think we can’t get there. A strategy typically has many unknowns and touch points out of our control.

· Do we understand the difference between a Strategy and a Strategic Plan? The risk is the Strategy. The challenge here is credibly understanding the risk/reward of the strategic options and objectively discerning those with a low chance of success, regardless of emotional response.

· What is our comfort level with the Strategy? If we are too comfortable with it, are we on target? A strategy in unpredictable times will likely cause a fair amount of dis-ease. The consequences of not projecting forward enough could be disastrous in long term.

· What are the potential single points of failure embedded in our Strategy? Is there a reasoned response to them?

· Do we have a credible Strategic Plan? Is it simple, straightforward, and understood by the leadership team? If not, it might need additional attention.

As a business critically examines these characteristics of its Strategy, openly recognizing the limitations of available information and bringing in partners with a different lens might also clarify the strategic path.

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