Time again, businesses hold strategy days, plan retreats and spend money on strategic planning sessions that don’t produce any lasting results. The session may go well and produce a sensible and comprehensible plan for everyone to follow, but progress hardly takes form. The plan barely gets off the ground before it’s pulled back down to business as usual. Here are the common reasons why:
The vision statement is one of the first steps of creating a strategic plan. Sadly, if your business isn’t aligned with the new vision, the rest of the plan will eventually crumble. Too often, a business comes up with a vision at the top, which is far too difficult to picture for employees near the bottom. It may sound great and look good on the wall at headquarters, but your team will have little idea how the vision relates to them or how they can be apart of that success. A clear vision will motivate your employees and set your business on a path to success.
Goals aren’t measurable
Goals that are vague and immeasurable are one of the leading reasons a business is unable to execute their strategic plan. These goals may sound nice and be strategically sound, but they’re difficult to reach. “Best customer service” may be a noble pursuit, but it’s not a measurable goal. It takes conviction to set measurable goals, because if they aren’t reached, it’ll be seen as a failure. However, in order for your team to take action steps towards completing goals, they need dates and targets to aim for.
Too many directions
When a business is being pulled in too many directions at once, it can be difficult to get anywhere at all. All too often, when a strategic plan is being built, too many strategic priorities are put forward. Understandably, business leadership will want to address every issue and improve every metric, but eventually, too many goals move the strategy past the threshold of achievability. However difficult it may be to do, choosing just two or three strategic priorities and getting everyone on board is where you’ll see success. Narrowing down strategic priorities is the essence of strategic planning, and remains one of the most difficult parts of the planning process.
Lack of buy-in
One of the biggest reasons why strategic plans fail is lack of buy-in. The plan may be solid, with measurable goals and a clear direction, but it’s worthless if the rest of your team isn’t on board. Early and constant communication with all members of your team is crucial. Ask around, collect feedback and take the temperature at different levels of your business. In order to avoid drifting back to business as usual, quarterly strategy update meetings can be set to keep everyone on the right track. If employees aren’t bought in early, they may become confused about what their role is and what goals to reach for.
Many firms find implementation to be the hardest part about strategy, probably because they don’t plan on it. In strategy sessions, great ideas are often brought forward and put into the strategic plan without any real implementation plan. Who will do what by when? Everyone from the bottom up needs to be clear on which direction they’re moving and how they’re going to get there. On the ground implemnattion relies on your people being able to understand and align with the business’s vision, purpose and goals, communicate effectively and work together.