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10 Signs Your Strategic Planning is Failing you

Like a great journey, charting a company’s new direction can be filled with risk. Adding to a management team’s challenging is that strategic planning efforts are often extremely visible and highly anticipated undertakings. What’s the alternative? Settle for following behind everyone else and trying to beat them with faster – better - cheaper? Eventually, this tactical thinking leads to stagnation and eventual decline. So even with the risks, management teams continue to lead strategic planning often without the guidance needed to make these efforts a success.

Statistics confirm these efforts are guided poorly. An astounding 80-85% of strategic planning efforts are deemed a failure by those who lead them. And, believe it or not, these rates are an improvement.

How can you determine if your planning efforts are set up to fail?

Here are ten statements that indicate you might be heading for an epic strategy failure.

Do any of these resonate?

1.   Our strategic planning is a one-day annual meeting.

2.   We generate lots of ideas, but we leave the planning on how to make these ideas a reality for later.

3.   We generate lots of plans but fail to stage and phase new them into a single multi-year plan.

4.   We know we need to make trade-offs to take on new ideas, but we never actually make a decision not to do something.

5.   The new strategic direction is shared, and then each department heads off to integrate it into their plans and budgets for next year. I am not sure how the budgets tie back to the strategic direction.

6.   We review the strategic goals when we start our annual budgeting, but we often have more questions about them than we have answers, so we tend to move on with our planning until we are specifically asked about a goal.

7.   Our cross-functional planning starts great, but within a month we are usually trying to solve the same old problems.

8.   I have no idea where our goals came from. They could not be based on any real market intelligence or insight.

9.   We worked so hard to satisfy our customers’ demands and then when we deliver, it doesn’t seem to make a difference, they just focus on new demands. We are in a continual chasing mode.

10.  We invested so much in making changes, and then when we implement them, it seems like the market has moved on to the next new thing and we are behind AGAIN.


Poor performance against strategic goals frustrates business leaders and they frequently attribute the source as an inability to execute.  To solve “the execution problem”, they invest in new software tools to more visibly link strategic goals to operational plans and dedicate experienced project manager to lead implementation efforts.  These are great efforts, but they are never enough.

To achieve a high level of sustained performance against strategic goals, you must create the right goals and foster new thinking in the company to ensure they are achieved. This is done with a true strategic planning process and with deliberate stewardship of new strategic thinking.

Worried your strategic planning process may be failing you?  Schedule a free consultation with our chief strategist and get back on the path to success.

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Post Tags: Strategic Planning

Cecilia Lynch

WRITTEN BY:Cecilia Lynch