Strategic Planning…The Great Enigma

10 10 2012


More is Less!

Too many cooks spoil the soup. We often ignore the simple, common sense wisdom of old sayings. This one perfectly describes one of the biggest fallacies in most strategic planning initiatives. In an effort to be inclusive (or to at least look that way), many organizations involve way too many people, and the result is an ineffective strategy.

Why is it that so many leaders shy away from developing strategy and providing direction? Ironically, these are two of the most important things that they can add to the organization. Is it because they can’t or because they won’t? Actually, it’s most often a combination of the two.

1. Many leaders can’t think strategically. Because leaders lack experience with any real strategic method, they flounder in their attempts to sort through the landscape and plot a course forward. Specifically, most leaders never get exposed to any sound fundamentals for developing strategy. Most likely they’ve gotten where they’re at by being effective tacticians and executors. Now they find themselves in completely unfamiliar territory that requires them to think and act strategically. Unfortunately, they are ill-equipped for this role. As a way out, they do what they always do. They bring others into the picture in an attempt to get the input and direction that they lack. This doesn’t address the fundamental problem. Very few people are natural strategic thinkers, but it can be learned and it can become an organizational skill.

2. Many leaders won’t think strategically. Effective leadership is risky business. It requires one to step out, craft a vision and pathway forward and then have the belief to deliver. When people lack belief or fear being wrong, they find ways to mitigate risk and spread responsibility. Strategy development is one of those risky times. What if we’re wrong or we miss something? Who’s reputation and career is on the line? At those times, “we” can sound better than “me”. Consequently, more people are pulled in, the group gets too big, too many agendas enter the equation and the resulting product lacks a strong and focused point of view that’s vital for strategies to generate results.

The best strategies are those developed by a small group of leaders who have the vision and perspective to link goals with organizational thoughts and actions, who learn what they need to learn to do the work and who understand and embrace this role as uniquely theirs to brIng to the organization. They seek input and perspective from others, but they don’t let too many cooks water down and spoil the soup.

How about you? Can you do it? Will you do it?

Too much participation is one reason for a lack of focus in strategy development, but there are other pitfalls. More on keeping proper focus in the next installment of the series.



One response

22 08 2014
Focus on Results Not Activities

[…] Strategic Planning…The Great Enigma Part Three (of Five) ( […]

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