Roy's Blog

May 2, 2016

7 proven ways to make floundering strategic planning successful

I have been the “victim” of traditional strategic planning methods for years.

“Strategic Planning 101” sessions are not fun; more often than not they are painful to sit through as participants are dragged through a pedantic process which can be extremely boring.

It is time consuming. Literally hour and hours of effort are consumed by preparation, in-session presentations from subject matter experts and debate over the most critical SWOT’s.

ISSUE #1 - current planning emphasis is on creating “perfect” strategic direction; how to execute it plays a minor, sometimes non-existent, role.

The process masks itself as a precise science in a world of uncertainty, randomness, unpredictability and imprecision. There is an infatuation with applying the tool set of strategic planning with the belief that the more analysis you do, the more perfect your plan becomes. Paralysis by analysis is often the result and more valuable time is consumed.

“Helium-filled” goals attracts much of the attention in terms of what is desired in the long term. The conversation includes this language: “market leader”, “world class”, “number 1” and “pre-eminent supplier”.

Direction setting occupies at least 80% of the time in an attempt to get it “perfect”. It is tight on strategy but loose on execution.

HOW the strategy will be executed in the marketplace gets little attention. It assumes that execution naturally follows the declaration of the new strategic direction strategy. REALLY? When has that ever happened?

Rather than seeing evidence of active use, “meticulously ironed” planning documents sit proudly on managers’ shelves gathering dust.

ISSUE #2 - there is no practical tool set to determine how an organization can truly separate itself from their competition.

Traditional strategy building is ineffective in producing a true competitive advantage claim to separate an organization from “the herd”; to stand-out and be different in a remarkable way that their customers care about.

The process doesn’t highlight the need to do so nor does it provide practical tools. Traditional marketing concepts like product and market leadership, first mover advantage and technology innovation are relied on accomplish this purpose but are ineffective in clearly defining how one company is different than another.

My Strategic Game Plan process addresses these inadequacies of traditional planning.

It has execution as its primary focus and it provides a practical and proven tool to create effective competitive differentiation.

It’s called “Strategic Game Plan” because the objective is to SCORE! The football analogy is quite apt; move the ball towards your opponent’s goal anyway in a series of moves you can successfully execute and get it across the goal line.

The process of moving down field doesn’t have to be elegant. Exploit whatever opportunities the defence gives you and just get the ball in the end zone. It really doesn’t matter if you score with a “Hail Mary” pass or a series of 10 running plays.

7 building blocks of the Strategic Game Plan:
1. Answer 3 questions and you have your game plan - declare your growth goals; choose the customers you intend to serve; determine how you intend to win.

2. Get your plan “just about right” - rebalance your planning efforts; loosen up on strategy and tighten up on execution.

3. Plan on the run - your game plan is never complete. Start executing; learn what works and doesn’t; adjust as you go.

4. Focus. Focus. Focus. - choose a handful of critical objectives to achieve that have the potential to deliver 75-80% Of your game plan. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” and go after too much. Your efforts will be diluted and your progress blocked.

5. Cut the Crap -  eliminate the projects and activities that cannot be directly related to your game plan. Crap consumes precious bandwidth you need to do new things. Hanging on to irrelevant tasks will put pressure to add resources that you don’t need and can’t afford.

6. Create your ONLY Statement - cut through the clutter of vague competitive claims out there and declare what you and ONLY you provide that is compelling and relevant to the customers you have chosen to serve.

7. Review your progress at least every 3 months. Keep execution alive and in everyone’s face as the new business as usual.

Out with the traditional strategy; in with the strategic game plan as the model for the new market realities.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other articles on planning you might like
Ship lots of imperfect stuff, imperfectly
To execute well slim down your middle

  • Posted 5.2.16 at 05:24 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink


To share your thoughts, please contact Roy.