Unlocking Success: Overcoming Strategic Planning Pitfalls

Posted on April 8, 2024

The term “strategic planning” often elicits a myriad of definitions and interpretations. From strategic plans to corporate plans, the landscape is rife with terminology that can easily bewilder.  It’s essential to strip away the jargon and get to the heart of what a strategic plan truly entails: setting a clear direction for where you want your organisation to be and setting out the steps you need to take to get there. At its core, strategic planning is about instigating change, which can range from incremental shifts to a full transformation.

However, this very potential for transformation can cause a problem. If you are trying to create a strategic plan that leads to transformation, how does it then relate to the everyday business as usual activities? This disconnect between the strategic plan and day-to-day operations can leave employees feeling apprehensive if they perceive their BAU responsibilities as sidelined in favour of lofty strategic goals. This in turn raises questions about resource allocation; how do you strike a balance between resourcing strategic initiatives and existing workload without overburdening your teams?

In order to navigate these challenges and create successful change, here are some key things to keep in mind:

Clearly define the purpose of the strategic plan

Ensure everyone in the organisation understands the purpose of the strategic plan. Is it geared towards long-term transformation or an extension of current business practices? Clarity in objectives is paramount for alignment and support across the organisation.

Assess organisational change readiness

Before embarking on any journey of change, assess the organisation’s readiness. Tools such as the DICE framework can provide valuable insights into the readiness for organisational change. Understanding where your organisation stands can inform the pace and scope of your strategic plan. The DICE framework looks at four factors: project duration, performance integrity, the commitment of senior executives and staff, and the additional effort employees must take to undergo the change. These factors are used to assess the likelihood of a projects’ success and can help managers take the necessary steps to increase the chance of success.

Communicate effectively

Leaders must be relentless in their communication of the strategic plan. Avoid the use of unnecessarily complex language and opt for plain English that resonates with all employees. The DICE framework emphasises the importance of senior executives visibly and consistently backing initiatives. Failure to communicate the need for change, and what it means for employees, puts the success of the plan at risk and can end up alienating those most affected by the change.

Embrace relentless reviewing

Reflect on past strategic planning exercises. What worked well, and what didn’t? Emphasise the importance of regular reviews and course correction. Implementation shouldn’t be a one-time event but an ongoing process deeply ingrained in leadership and organisational culture. It’s vital to have clear scheduling of milestones and systematic reviews assessing progress towards outcomes. Evidence suggests that the longer between reviews, the less likely success will be.

Nexus has extensive experience helping complex organisations implement their strategic plans and bring about transformational change.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our team and change your organisation for the better.