We've talked a lot about strategic planning & the why, the process, the positive outcomes. Are there any negatives to jumping into the strategic planning process?

Absolutely. And knowing them will help you avoid, or at least anticipate, them. The biggest pitfall to strategic planning can be summed up thusly: Strategy will succeed only if your employees find the process to the goals meaningful. Here are standard pitfalls to anticipate:

  • Management rejecting the formal plan. Not aloud and not in an aggressive way. However, when managers circumvent the strategic plan by making their own decisions that contradict your company's direction, your employees become confused. Senior management and CEO's need to be keenly aware what mid-level management is communicating & verbally and non-verbally & to those in the trenches.
  • Management treats strategic planning as outside the norm. Strategic planning should be looked upon as part of the normal management process, part of each managers' awareness. If the plan is treated as a special one-time thing, or as a fad, employees are less likely to take it seriously and attempt to incorporate the processes and plans into their day-to-day duties.
  • Senior management looks at the strategic plans only how it affects their area of the company. Ideally, your organization's plan will cover the entire company, allowing for cross-departmental cooperation and flexibility. Employees will take their cue from their managers and hoard information and resources from other areas of the company, dooming the overall success of the strategic plan.
  • Senior management creates a strategic plan without input from others. Collaboration can be a huge key to your company's success. When senior management locks themselves away and produces a plan, those throughout the company may look at it and think, "Well, if they had asked me"¦!" Ask! Stakeholders abound in your company, and they all have different views, ideas and information that is important, no critical, to your organization's success. Take advantage of the experts right in your own house. This does not mean everyone in your company is invited to the strategic planning sessions; it means that the right people are asking the right questions, in order to obtain the right fit for your organization.

Do you see an overriding theme here? Senior management has the responsibility to engage their employees, encourage input, inform about plans, and connect the dots between process, goals and success.