With Businesses to Build, Companies Consistently Postpone Strategic Thinking

Sometimes I think strategic planning is viewed as a luxury. Something you do when you have a lot of extra time on your hands and develop from a very high elevation. But the overall importance of strategic market planning is seldom lost on Chief Executive Officers or their C-Class executes who are in charge of executing the plan.

Whether the plan is more important than the actual implementation is a matter of debate. Recently, in a Linkedin strategy group just this subject was carefully debated. The general conclusion was you need both to do well. This is fine and good music to my strategic planning ears.

But why do so few companies actually engage in strategic planning? A recent management survey reported that middle-market organizations spend less than one hour a month on their strategic planning. Another recent Harvard Business Review report put the ROI of traditional planning at 34 percent or less. And many executives report that only 19 percent of their strategic plans achieve their objectives.

From my consulting perspective, as a provider of strategic planning and development services, I can personally attest that most strategic plans that I am asked to review have never left their owner’s bookshelves; and fewer than 25 percent have shared any of their planning with their employees. Is it any wonder why so many of these plans never succeed since they are never given the fighting chance they need, or the required funding? And often CEOs don’t execute their own plans!

Companies today have a variety of ways to produce their strategic plan and piles of time to make the concerted effort that is required. But despite a slow-mo economy—that allows companies to carefully rethink their strategies—many companies remain reluctant to actually take the dive into true strategic growth planning. Here are a three simple steps to get you started if you are one of those CEOs that has been putting off preparing your strategic plan or you work for a CEO that needs a gentle nudge.

Tom Marin is the president of MarketCues, a national consulting firm. Tom serves as a senior advisor and change-management consultant with 35 years of experience. He has worked for some of the world’s largest corporations, as well as middle-market firms. Tom's focus is to plan and drive strategy shifts and strategic growth programs in the printing industry and a diverse range of market areas.
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