energizing breakthrough performance

Deciding What Not to Do in Your Strategic Plan: Just Say “No”

Author: ; Published: Apr 2, 2010; Category: Strategic Planning; Tags: , ; No Comments»


Recently, I was asked to review the strategic plan of a professional association. The plan had evolved over many years: With each iteration, goals and objectives were added such that the plan had become a detailed encyclopedia of all of the activities that were supposed to be performed by the organization’s staff.

There were two major problems with the plan: First, some of the activities included in the plan were not being performed; in other words, these activities were not being taken seriously, thereby detracting from the plan’s credibility.  In a nutshell, staff were accountable for the pursuit of some objectives contained in the plan, but not all.  But which ones? The plan had lost its value as a navigational tool – as a device for tracking progress and correcting the organization’s course. 

The second problem with the plan was that the organization was insufficiently staffed to implement it, and not by a little, but by a lot! This resulted in cynicism concerning the plan as well as no small amount of staff fatigue.

Strategic planning is a process of making decisions about priorities and then setting forth serious operational plans which permit the attainment of major goals. Strategic plans should be aggressive. They should provide “stretch.” However, “stretch” should not take things to the breaking point, because, to be brief, things can and will break if stretched too far.

In making decisions about priorities, it is inevitable that a quality strategic plan will entail making decisions about what not to do, whether this means deferring a priority until a later time, or just swallowing hard and discarding one initiative in favor of another which promises greater pay-off or “goodness of fit” with where the organization wants to go.

To quote Nancy Reagan, sometimes it’s “Just Say No.” Good strategic planning helps an organization make these choices with all due diligence.

If you need help, contact us about our Strategic Futures Strategic Planning Facilitation services.