The Strategic Plan that Never Was

pyramid-chart-art-750by M. Anthony Sacco

Have you ever been faced with a strategic plan stealth attack? What this refers to is the management technique of some organizations that practice strategic planning as a necessary evil and therefore delegate it to the bean-counter in charge to whip up a five year projection that matches what the home office (or the board) will like, followed by passing it off as an organizationally embedded project.  Then the staff learns about the strategies informally, if at all, as they seep out or trickle down.

When strategic planning is given this kind of lack of attention (meaning very little) and treated like an exercise, there are many problems.  One of the problems is lost opportunity. First, there is the opportunity mentioned above. The staff gets blindsided by what was never communicated clearly and/or completely.  Little do they know though that the reason was the lack of attention at the top.  Instead they chalk it up to a delay or as yet unscheduled meeting.  But the opportunity lost with them is one of strategic engagement in aligned growth and improvement.

The second opportunity lost by treating strategic planning as a necessary exercise without real value, is that of utilization of talent.  This includes both the relationship as trusted advisors and also their role as conduits to the productivity and innovation embedded within the organization.  Why hire talented people and then keep from them the opportunity to engage in real strategic activity to improve the organization?

The third opportunity, and the last one we’ll discuss here, is the opportunity to build trust and respect.  If you treat strategic planning like a numbers game and then withhold the information (out of disrespect for the process) from those you have entrusted with operational responsibilities, you have broken the trust and respect relationship.  And that relationship broken is  basic to an healthy organization.

So, when strategic planning is on the agenda, make sure it begins a cooperative and collaborative project for the entire organization to input into and clearly and completely be informed about.

Stratalyne Business Solutions LLC




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