Many clients I work with don’t do strategic plans. Most know they should. Some try. But very few engage in a formal process that would either be considered strategic or even helpful when measured in terms of outputs down the road.

Some thoughts:

  1. Any exercise that forces the management team to think about its goals and how to achieve them is good.
  2. Strategic planning is a creative, not a budgeting exercise. Budgeting is separate and comes later.
  3. Strategic planning is always top down – timing, process and desired outcomes must come from the top.
  4. Strategic planning is a team, not a functional activity.
  5. Honest, forthright discussion by those involved in executing strategy is fundamental to good outcomes.
  6. Creativity can be driven top down and bottom up. Top down: “here’s our challenge, how do we fix it?”. Bottom up: “here’s our ideas and where we think they fit”. Both are required.
  7. Strategic planning must be regular but need not be annual. Any plan that changes annually isn’t strategic.
  8. The highest level of strategic planning is defining the goal. Then come strategies, then tactics.
  9. Managers will always confuse goals, strategies and tactics. Working bottom up: tactics answer the how; strategies answer the what; goals answer the why.
  10. Planning is irrelevant without execution.