Each of the following strategic planning mistakes is costly. In fact, committing any one of them could kill your strategic plan. Following the description of each is an instruction on how to avoid the mistake.

Mistake number 1: Arbitrarily selecting your planning team members

Many managers give insufficient consideration to choosing their planning team members. They simply select a few senior managers with too little thought about their potential contribution to building a viable strategic plan. Also, they don’t consider whether each team member is positioned to drive the successful implementation of the resultant strategies.

How to avoid this mistake: Consider carefully the selection of each and every member of your planning team. And keep these two criteria in mind:
o Willing and capable of strategic thought – to assist in the development of your strategic plan.
o Positioned, in the organization, to drive the successful implementation of your resultant strategies.

Mistake number 2: Thinking of strategic planning as an event, rather than a process.

Some managers will set aside time to develop their plan. So far, so good. Unfortunately, they’ll then adopt – and communicate – an attitude of “let’s get it done and get back to work.” Clearly, they fail to integrate their plan into the day-to-day operation of their business.

How to avoid this mistake: Adopt the attitude that planning is an integral part of the operation of your business. In fact, your strategies, once detailed, will become a description of work to be performed. So when you and your planning team “gets back to work,” they’ll be working at accomplishing your strategies.

Mistake number 3: Not educating your planning team members to the strategic planning process.

Believe it or not, some planning teams enter their strategy sessions “cold” – without first learning the process in which they’re about to engage. This is a terrible mistake – for two reasons. First, the resultant lack of understanding seriously affects performance. Thus the quality of the resultant plan – and the strategies within the plan – suffer. Second, failure to educate the planning team misses the opportunity to build enthusiasm among the team’s members. The quality of their discussions, the resultant strategies, and the implementation of those strategies all suffer.

How to avoid this mistake: Conduct a Strategic Planning Workshop for your planning team members. The workshop will not only educate, but also build your managers’ enthusiasm for the process. And make sure that the workshop includes a case study – so your team members will experience building a “mini strategic plan.” While doing so, they’ll extend their thinking to your own organization. They’ll then be eager to apply the process “in real life.”

Mistake number 4: Not involving employees beyond your planning team members.

Some managers don’t even think about asking employees (beyond the planning team) to help. This mistake guarantees that the organization will miss valuable input. Also, it will squander the opportunity to build enthusiasm for implementation of the resultant strategies.

How to avoid this mistake: Consider the many ways to include your employees in the process – both for the benefit of their input, and to build their enthusiasm. For example:
o Providing thoughts (through interview or survey) on issues to discuss
o Assistance in gathering pre-planning information
o Detailing resultant strategies through development of action plans (lists of tactics)
o Estimating resources required to accomplish strategies
o Implementation of resultant strategies

Mistake number 5: Ignoring the question of timing.

Some assume that any time of the year is as good as any other for developing strategy. Not true. Planning out of phase with your budgeting process will leave you trying to implement this year’s strategies with last year’s resources.

How to avoid this mistake: Make sure your timing is such that your strategies “feed your budgeting process.” That way, you’ll be able to allocate resources in support of your strategies.