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Why Don’t Companies Plan?

M Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert

Strategic Planning Expert

What is there about strategic planning that keeps companies from making the effort to plan their futures?  Why are companies afraid to plan?  We have some experience in overcoming this hesitancy through exposing companies to strategic planning in our seminars: Simplified Strategic Planning.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why companies avoid going through the work of building a strategic plan.  One example is that some companies feel planning is superfluous.  Why do they feel this way?  There probably are many individual reasons, but here are a couple of thoughts which may be useful for analysis.  Some feel strategic planning is for big businesses only.  Every company, no matter how small, should be planning for its future.  Failure to plan means both your customers and your competitors will have significant influence on where and how you will be allowed to compete.  You could be shoved into competing in areas which are not utilizing your sustainable competitive advantages, resulting in higher costs, lower margins, reduced sales and profits.  Failure to plan also often limits the vision for the future to the CEO and misses the synergistic opportunity to do strategic thinking as a senior management team.

Some may be afraid that strategic planning will be overly time-consuming.  This can be overcome relatively easily.  While this may seem somewhat self-serving, bringing in an outside leader to guide and monitor your strategic planning is often the most effective and lowest cost, both in investment and in time, for your company.  An experienced facilitator well-practiced in leading companies through strategic planning, having led dozens of companies through an effective, efficient process, can save you time and money.  Yes, you can do the process yourself, but there are risks, which an experienced leader can help you avoid or minimize.  An effective leader will keep your team on task, avoid the various pitfalls which can arise, and challenge your team to deliver an effective, actionable strategic plan in a reasonable time frame.

Another impediment can be fear of failure.  When companies do a good job of strategic planning, they often end up with benchmarks for their strategies.  If they don’t meet these benchmarks, they could take this to mean they have failed.  But what they have really done is to determine where they have strengths and where they have weaknesses, and they can then determine what they need to do to meet their ongoing expectations.  The process gives the company the means to take corrective actions, sometimes even during the period of the strategic plan, to overcome weaknesses in their planning and execution of their plan.  Much better to address these problem areas as early as possible, rather than to ignore them and end up in a slow death spiral.  The way of the ostrich with his head in the sand is a recipe for failure.

Finally, some simply don’t get around to actually planning.  This is where most companies that don’t plan are.  Getting started must be driven from the top in order to change the approach of the company.  Planning for your future is one of the highest level responsibilities of top management, and failing to do this can lead to diminishing competitiveness, lower profits and sales and shrinking market share.

When getting started in strategic planning is so easy, not doing it is effectively letting the company wither, albeit slowly, until it is no longer viable and competitive.  We can help.  Please contact me at baldwin@cssp.com or at 616-575-3193 so we may discuss how to help you get started with strategic planning, or help you improve what you are doing with your current strategic plan to make you more competitive and drive a bigger market share and improve your profitability.

To learn ways to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: baldwin@cssp.com

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