Make Strategic Planning Happen

Make Strategic Planning Happen

What will make strategic planning happen and keep people from getting mired in non-strategic activities?  Even at the top of organizations, strategic planning seems to take a back seat.  Like any other critical management activity, companies must do strategic planning routinely and not postpone it.  Today, I’d like to look at how to make strategic planning happen, no matter what.

First, we must remember why we do strategic planning

The purpose of strategy is to steer you in the right course and direction for future success.  Failure to do so will lead to blindly following your present course and direction or a strategy of aimless wandering.  The experiences of Kodak before they went bankrupt in 2012 well-represent the extent to which this is problematic.  Although Kodak management was aware of the threat of digital photography, they constantly failed to find a direction that worked.  The cultural resistance that grew from the perception of digital photography as “the enemy”compounded this issue, of course. Clearly, there are at least two key points.  The invention of the digital camera (at Kodak), and the acquisition of photo-sharing site Ofoto ( before Facebook).  Had either of these key events led to adequate strategic effort, Kodak might be a larger and successful company today.

YES, failing to act on the right opportunities at the right time can be catastrophic!

Postponement, while inevitable in the real world, needs to be minimized where possible

The counter to this issue is to stay on top of your strategy routinely.  In Simplified Strategic Planning, we make strategic planning happen by setting deadlines every month.  By doing so, your plan isn’t just a document gathering dust.

Write down and routinely revise your strategic plan

This prevents you from getting too wrapped up in any one detail of your strategy.  Indeed, you should try to get the whole process completed in a short time giving adequate consideration to key details.  Make sure you acknowledge each detail, evaluate its impact on your future, and then move on to the other details.

In Simplified Strategic Planning, we set a schedule and force prioritization of key elements of the strategy

Using this approach, you know ahead of time that you don’t have unlimited time to talk about low-impact concerns.  Furthermore, a holistic approach to strategy will require you give some consideration to all elements of strategic success.

To summarize, these are the five keys that will make strategic planning happen:

  1. Know why you are doing it
  2. Minimize postponement
  3. Make the strategy part of your routine
  4. Set a schedule for strategic planning
  5. Force prioritization

These steps will help make strategic planning happen quickly and efficiently.  Consequently, you have more time to work on managing the important day to day matters in your business.

Are you having trouble getting started with your strategic planning or keeping it going?  If so, you may want to attend our seminar on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn more about competitve strategy and other aspects of strategic planning.

Robert Bradford is President & CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at

M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at:

Co-Author, M. Dana Baldwin

Robert Bradford

Co-Author, Robert Bradford

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