Warning! The Predictable Failure of Strategic Planning Thanks to Dr Jay Hays
Plan your work and work your plan!! • Yet, most of the time strategic planing is an exercise in self-delusion and failure • You should know about this: • You have been (or will be) either: • an executive trying to orchestrate change and strategies that failed or • the recipient of strategic directives that were irrelevant, confusing or simply impossible to implement
To be sure, “plan your work and work your plan” is fine for simple tasks BUT, as our good Jay Hays argues, it becomes increasingly difficult for planning that enters the “twilight zone, that is, going where no one has gone before or where the environment is unknown”
Strategic planning often fails because of the way it is conceived and implemented • Imagine a group of organisational leaders gathering at a “planning retreat” in the Blue Mountains… • These executives problem-solve, plan, prioritise, and develop impressive lists of goals and even more impressive new directions that are then announced with great emphasis and expensive promotion to the rest of the organisation: we got a vision and a mission!! Go and make it happen!! Followers: Engage!!
The Devil and the Details • The direction is there but the detail is left to the implementers… • These implementers are often veterans of previous strategic plans, organisational survivors trapped in a vicious circle
Vicious Chain of events… • Veterans react with a mix of cynicism and hopelessness • Cynicism and hopelessness increases the probability of poor performance • Poor performance contributes to the failure of the strategy • Upper management sees the strategy as a failure and generates a new strategy with is handled down to the implementers…
Breaking the Failure Cycle • Typical circle of strategic planning failure: • plans are done by isolated planners • details are left to implementers that are growing tired of experimental failures • So, in your next strategic planning retreat remember that: • successful strategic planning requires strong leadership, fluid communication, wide participation and empowerment… …or be prepared to repeat the cycle of failure
How to improve strategic planning • According to Dr Hays, many elements are required, including: • Making the implementers the strategic planners • Closing the gap between implementers and planners by increasing inclusion and communication • Providing the necessary resources to make the plan feasible • Avoiding the tendency to short change strategic planning, taking time to do it fully