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How to avoid the 3 strategic planning mistakes

by | Apr 22, 2021

It’s strategy season and there are three strategic planning mistakes to avoid if you want to succeed.

Stationery suppliers are selling out of post-it notes. Sharpies are the hottest tool in town and everyone is drinking bad coffee at the company off-site.

Sound familiar?

Here’s how to make sure you win this quarter, this year and every quarter with your strategic planning.

There are 3 mistakes most organisations make when doing their strategic plans.

1. The strategic planning workshop is a love-in.

Everyone is too nice, everything becomes fluffy.

The biggest problem with the typical strategic planning workshop is it lacks objectivity.

I bet you’ve been there. The facilitator opens with an inspiring story, moves to some open questions, the post-it notes come out and everyone is looking at the world with rose coloured glasses.

Feels good doesn’t it?

An hour or two later after everyone has shared their ideas, there are a few big motherhood statements about saving the world and everyone feels good.

The facilitator high fives a few people.

More coffee comes out. Perhaps even some muffins and fruit.

You watch an inspiring video with mountains and eagles and settle in for the next strategic cuddle and calculate how many drinks you can have at the bar before you have to order an Uber home.

But…. in the background.

  • Frontline teams lack training
  • Customer journeys are unclear
  • The CRM still sucks more money than your old car possessed by something unnatural
  • No-one knows if what they do actually makes profit for the company
  • Job descriptions might have existed to hire someone, but what’s the relevance now?
  • Sales teams are off selling to anyone that breathes
  • Everyone thinks you’re a digital business because you have an Instagram account

A few months later the strategic plan drops.

It sounds good, it feels good, everybody thinks the organisation is going to get there.

Why? Because they don’t see their own name against anything clear and accountable.

A few months later, people are back to doing what they did, making it up as they go along.

But hey, the muffins were nice.

Reality check: 70% of leaders believe their strategy is not clear enough.

Strategic planning mistake: PROBLEM LEADERS STRATEGY NOT CLEAR ENOUGH

2. You’ve got a great strategic plan, but the team ignore it.

You heard about the strategic love-in that some of the lucky, privileged people went to.

‘They must be the high potential people or much smarter than you’, you think to yourself.

Why weren’t you invited? Did your voice not matter?

Now the strategic plan is out.

One of the executives went on a roadshow and everyone got muffins while the boss talked up the team, the vision and some lofty goals.

But…. In the background.

  • No-one asked you what you really thought
  • There’s no focus on anything tangible and practical for today to get the work done
  • No-one is held accountable so whatever is said doesn’t really matter.
  • Don’t they know we’d need to increase budgets to get that done, not decrease them!!?

So, in the end, the plan sounds nice but ‘hey, that’s for the executives and managers, it doesn’t really apply to me, I just do all the work’.

Sound familiar?

Reality: 68% of leaders believe their strategy is held back by their culture.

Why? Because most organisations fail at engaging everyone on their input and organising that data into easy digestible insights.

Strategic planning mistake: PROBLEM LEADERS HELD BACK BY CULTURE

Great plan on the day, but now reality sets in and not much gets done.

Everyone went on the strategic planning offsite.

It was great, the coffee was awesome, there wasn’t just muffins but some amazing food from that funky new cafe all the hipsters go to!

The energy was alive man.

We got $h!t done!

I mean, you should have seen all the ideas we came up with.

We ran out of post it notes!

Do you remember the drinks that night…. I don’t, what a buzz.

WOW!

A few weeks later.

Plans out.

Hmmm, we were a bit ambitious, weren’t we?!?

Crap, I’ve got a lot of things to do.

Did I really say we could do that?

Uh oh. I got some late nights coming up.

Reality: 75% of leaders believe their strategy requires them to work on too many priorities.

Strategic planning mistake: PROBLEM - LEADERS WORK ON TOO MANY GOALS

Bin the old way of managing your business and be a Waymaker.

Here’s how to fix these common scenarios.

Get on to Waymaker.io – start a free trial.

Do get your team to spend 30 minutes and take the diagnostic.

Do get your team together, wherever they are, to review the data on the Experience Curves.

Do come up with ideas, raising them as objectives in Waymaker.

Do see your team vote on the best ideas that close the gaps in your organisation.

Do commit to the 1, 2 or 3 goals that matter most. Commit them on your Waymaker Roadmap so everyone can see them. Share these with your team and explain why they matter.

Do allow the rest of the team to determine their 1, 2 or 3 goals and commit those as OKRs for the quarter, half, or year.

Do meet weekly as teams and track progress in Waymaker.io, helping each other remove roadblocks.

Do see the data points move every day, week and month and see exactly how your team are going to hit their goals.

Do rinse and repeat this process every quarter.

Do not try and plan out the next 5 or 10 years. It’s like boiling the ocean.

Waymaker helps teams reduce fluff and bubble and focus on closing the gaps.

We are seeing teams reduce strategic planning from days to hours, from weeks to minutes.

New organisations working on Waymaker are taking around 2 x 90 minute sessions to get their focus and establish an aligned plan with goals for all team members.

Teams who have been through more than 2 quarterly cycles are getting things done and the right initiatives planned in 90 – 120 minutes.

It’s not about speed, but speed matters.

It’s about clarity, alignment, focus and accountability.

And, yes it is also about the muffins. Do have some nice muffins and coffee.

They really do help everyone.

Do start a free trial of Waymaker if your strategic life looks like the mistakes in this article.

By <a href="https://waymaker.io/author/stuart-leo/" target="_self">Stuart Leo</a>

By Stuart Leo

Published on April 22, 2021

Stuart is the CEO & Founder of Waymaker. His background is in strategy, marketing & management. Stuart is a passionate believer in helping people find their organisation's true north and giving them the tools to get them there. When not exploring new ideas in leadership and management, Stuart with his family exploring the beautiful regions, islands and coast of Australia.

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