Many leaders and executives have all but abandoned the idea of strategic planning, regarding it as nothing more than an exercise in futility. The amount of time and money spent on planning appears for most to be the proverbial rat-hole, sucking resources out of the organization and yielding little or no value. The thick binders that sit on the shelves of their offices are constant reminders of the colossal waste they once called “long-term planning.” The ROI (Return on Investment) makes it difficult to justify the effort of building up everybody’s hopes, selling a vision, and rolling it out onto the launchpad where it goes up like a rocket and comes down like a rock. People go into silence about the failure and simply move on until they’re ready to sell another new vision with a plan that won’t work once again.
Does this sound familiar? It should; according to a research study published in 2015 in the Harvard Business Review, only 8% of leaders are good at both strategy and execution.
However, planning for the future is essential to create growth and momentum in your organization. But there are practices that are more effective in planning than others. From our observations, we can identify at least seven reasons why plans end up failing.
Leading without listening
Starting with the future instead of the past
Asking the wrong questions (criticizing vs. critical thinking)
Focusing on complexity rather than simplicity
Launching objectives without champions
Creating destinations without demarcation (metrics)
Falling under the illusion of pain-free planning
Which of these reasons is most likely to trip up your organization in the planning process?
For more specific learning on why plans fail as well as on navigating the challenges to leadership and organizational growth, order our new book GUIDE: Building the Team. Setting the Direction. Fulfilling the Mission.
Dave Marks has over 35 years of church ministry experience including 23 years as a senior pastor. His consulting experience includes ministry assessment, leadership coaching, and strategic planning. Dave’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.S. in Organizational Leadership and a D.Min. in Leadership.