12 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Crafting a Strategic Plan

With the goal of creating a successful business strategy in mind, here are the top 10 mistakes to be avoided when crafting your own plan. Not keeping the plan concise and straightforward, not defining the customer and their needs, not considering competitors and market trends, simply repeating last year's plan, not taking a systems thinking approach, not testing strategies and actions against potential scenarios, not taking advantage of peer advisory group advice, not recognizing people's roles and contributions, not creating an impressive plan the first time, and not aligning people's roles with strategic objectives. In a recent publication, 12 Common Traits of Companies with Successful Corporate Planning, we explored the common patterns of companies that succeed in their corporate strategic planning efforts. This week and next, we'll examine 12 common mistakes made in corporate strategic planning.

While business strategies should remain stable and relatively unchanged for a longer period of time, strategic plans should be focused on achieving strategic priorities in a timely manner. Plans also need to be updated more frequently to prevent them from becoming outdated and to keep the organization motivated to execute the plan. Short-term planning is essential in the business world, as it allows organizations to use valuable current information and continue to commit to meeting the plan's milestones. A continuous 12-month plan that is updated quarterly provides more value to the organization in several ways.

As the long-term plan's objectives are partially or fully met, the operational component of the plan moves forward and is updated with more accurate and up-to-date information for the next 12 months. New objectives and sub-initiatives move forward as others are completed and eliminated. This provides actionable data for managers to work with during budgeting and gives executives a more realistic idea of the plan's actual momentum and progress. Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for chief executives and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth, and improving business performance.

More than 45,000 high-caliber executives have benefited from Vistage's services. The adage “You're the sum of your closest friends” rings particularly true for CEOs. For the past 30 years, I have been uniquely blessed with an ingenuity that has enabled me to help organizations create successful strategies. Take advantage of peer advisory group advice, personalized executive advice, industry networks, exclusive events, and more.

Whether your organization completes the strategic planning process once every 1 year, 3 years, or 6 months, there's no doubt that this is an important moment that can change the rules of the game. During an average strategic planning process, management and key personnel remain off-site (or online) for consecutive days, away from their daily responsibilities. In addition to that, organizations can often spend a considerable amount of money on travel expenses, consultants, and facilitators. When developing a vision that your people can support and accept, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.

First of all, there must be a realistic timeline attached to the vision. If your ideal future is 1 year from now, you're not thinking big enough; but if it's 10 years from now, most of your people won't even see themselves as part of that future. Do you want additional information? Read the 4 Step Guide to Strategic Planning now to learn more. Strategic planning requires making difficult decisions; prioritizing certain initiatives over others; allocating resources accordingly; stopping some things; using external facilitators; dedicating less than an hour a month on strategic planning; creating an effective strategic plan; experimenting; knowing what leaders are capable of doing; making small refinements; recognizing people's roles and contributions; testing strategies against possible scenarios; taking a systems thinking approach; aligning people's roles with strategic objectives; and not repeating the same mistakes.

High-level leaders need to know what their leaders are capable of doing and how much effort they put into the strategy making process. Strategic plans often require small refinements to be more effective in solving specific problems. A disconnect arises when people's roles and contributions are not recognized or are not aligned with strategic objectives.