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The Seven Most Common Pitfalls in Strategic Planning

The Seven Most Common Pitfalls in Strategic Planning

The common pitfalls in strategic planning are:

  1. Producing a plan that is not actually strategic. The strategic plan may have a mission and vision statement that sounds great but unless it addresses the key issues facing the organization it is not useful.
  2. Getting caught up in the day-to-day or operational issues. Strategic planning is designed to address the big issues of direction for the organization and not the day-to-day issues.
  3. Internal focus. Unless consideration is given to the client, members at large or other key stakeholders, the plan risks becoming unrealistic.
  4. Trying to do it all with inside staff. Surgeons do not operate on themselves or their family, and lawyers maintain that, “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The dynamics are the same in a good planning process.The most common solution is to have an outside facilitator and outside (i.e. non staff) board members or other stakeholders attend.
  5. Developing a plan that is not meaningful. Unless the board, executive director and staff know, understand and support the plan – it won’t happen! For it to work, the plan must be effectively communicated and ”sold” both inside and outside the organization.
  6. Developing a wish list instead of a plan. No strategy is worth much until it’s implemented. The plan needs to be translated into measurable components and discrete individual activities. Plus there must be enough follow-up, rewards, and consequences to put teeth into the actions.
  7. Strategic planning is treated as an event. To be effective, your planning team must treat strategic planning as a process not an event. Reporting regularly against the plan helps participants realize when it is time to revisit the plan. The best strategies usually evolve: they seldom just happen over one weekend a year.


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