energizing breakthrough performance

An Organization That Doesn’t Plan Its Future Isn’t Likely to Have One

Beware of the Pitfalls!

Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best: "Plans are nothing, planning is everything." While your strategic planning activities will result in a document, the document itself matters less than the process of collecting and analyzing input, and thoughtful discussion and debate. Even at that, examples of failed strategic planning efforts abound. Strategic planning does not provide perfection, nor does it provide instant miracles. However, if expectations concerning the possibilities and limitations of strategic planning are accurately framed and communicated, great value can be had. With this said, there are plenty of paths to bad planning! Some of the more serious pitfalls to be avoided are presented below. In a bad pun that is a take-off on my name, I refer to these pitfalls as the "21 Gunn Salute to Bad Planning." To judge your organization’s readiness for strategic planning, please see our Strategic Planning Questionnaire for Business, Strategic Planning Questionnaire for Government Agencies, or our Strategic Planning Questionnaire for Associations.

21 Potential Pitfalls of Strategic Planning

  • Pitfalls in Getting Started
    1. Top management’s assumption that it can delegate the planning function to a "planner."
    2. Rejecting planning, i.e., deciding to just "go through the motions," because there has been success without it or because previous planning efforts have been viewed as unsuccessful.
    3. Assuming that planning is not feasible because of "political" factors or the uncertainties inherent in a future not carved in stone.
    4. Assuming that an organization simply cannot develop effective long-range planning appropriate to its resources and needs.
  • Pitfalls in Thinking About Planning
    1. Ignoring the fact that planning is as much a personal, "political" matter as it is a rational process.
    2. Ignoring the fact that planning should be a learning process for everyone.
    3. Assuming that planning is easy.
    4. Assuming that the organization’s comprehensive planning is entirely separate from the ongoing management process.
    5. Assuming that effective total planning can be done piecemeal.

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