Three Roadblocks to Strategic Planning

As time passes, a plan will need to be continually updated; Therefore, dubbing strategic planning a “big lie”. According to Kenny, another complaint is that “strategic” planning isn’t actually “strategy” at all. Corporate as usual takes over, and the innovative thinking that underpins ambitious business actions is pushed aside. The strategic planning process has a function. The issue isn’t with the principle but with how it’s applied. Here are three roadblocks to strategic planning, according to Kenny, derived from several CEO interviews:  

Unrealistic expectations

  • Kenny believes in “changing your strategy mindset”. It would be best if you embraced unpredictability and your inability to devise the ideal strategy. For instance, Hannah, CEO of one of Australia’s largest egg producers, assumed strategic planning would ensure a clear and definite future. However, in recent years, the company has faced border restrictions, supply chain problems, flooding, and fierce rivalry. She adjusted her thinking in response. Hannah realised that her perceptions of her company’s capabilities were set in stone. She changed her thinking to become more organic and aware of her company’s flexible possibilities. As a result, she anticipated achieving success by following a strict, mechanical strategy. She also realised that her team of exceptional and diverse talent has enormous and untapped potential.   

Wrong model

  • Fix this by “Shifting your planning model”. Don’t become stuck in your company’s strategy development by putting too much emphasis on “planning”. In Kenny’s interview with Terry, CEO of a company that makes “medicines for animals,” which includes agricultural animals and home pets, Terry realised that his fixation on having a precise plan was limiting his ability to establish a strategy. Mike Tyson’s statements influenced his decision, where Terry views strategic planning as a succession of rounds punctuated by several encounters rather than a significant fight. He now understands how strategic planning might help him make sense of an unpredictable future. That isn’t to say that everything will go according to plan. It also does not imply that there is no strategy because even a frequently changing plan results in preparation. He also realised that “planning” dominated due to the operational focus. Furthermore, he can strategically quarterly reviews in which operational matters are not discussed. As a result, the focus has switched from “planning” to “business future direction.”  

Budget override

  • Kenny suggests “Loosen the coupling between budget and plan”. Now things have changed. Adrian, CEO of a concrete roadblock manufacturing company, believes that “budgeting takes place within the context set by the strategic plan”. The budget is established simultaneously when executive and shareholder expectations are established. In a fluid planning environment, the strategic plan follows suit. “With his strategic plan, he can improve what the company is doing presently to achieve the budgeted results and meet the targets”. Simultaneously, the strategic planning process aids his company in identifying new prospects outside of the budgeted activities.  

Strategy and Culture   

You can’t create good culture and strategy as a by-product; however, if you design, plan and execute a great strategy, you will develop a strong culture. Your strategy will inform, infiltrate, and illuminate your culture. If you want to see successful organisational planning in action, just glance at the franchise model. Here, planning is so well crafted that individual business owners can pick up a section of the franchise business and implement it simply by following a very well-mapped process.   

Crucially, at a certain point in the strategic planning process, a business must go from strategic planning to operational planning to achieving targets. It takes the approach from a vision to reality. Start small and build your way up.  A strategic plan is not a do-it-yourself project. Its creation necessitates a dynamic, anticipatory process. It’s a way of thinking about how things are evolving. You are not prepared until you have a plan. 

Adapted from: HBR | 3 Stumbling Blocks that Get in the Way of Strategic Planning | Graham Kenny