Strategic-Planning Myth: most organizations are successful in their strategic planning

Truth: about 70% of strategic planning fails

With the amount of time and effort that goes into strategic planning, this statistic isn’t the truth most organizations want to hear. An even sadder reality is that many organizations never figure out why their strategic plans fail. They make the same mistake time and again, all the while expecting different results.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Strategic planning is one of the most important tools a business of any size uses for itself and its customers or members. A business without a strategic plan is like a builder without a blueprint. He may know what he wants to build or what he is supposed to build, but he doesn’t have the tools which show him how to build it. A strategic plan, when executed properly, provides direction on what goals the business plans to achieve and how it will achieve them.

Here are some common myths about strategic planning that may challenge your financial institution to create a well winning strategic plan.

Myth: strategic planning is all about the process

Truth: strategic planning is really about execution and results

Many organizations spend months in their planning phase, and they should. After all, your strategic plan is a working document that guides your financial institution through a defined time period (one year, three years, five years, etc.) The process, however, is only one piece of your strategic plan. Yes, it’s important, but it does not define your organization like the actual plan does.

Focus on the results you want and how your financial institution will achieve those results. Be diligent about execution and follow-through. Don’t just create a strategic document and leave the execution to chance. Define who, what, where, when and how your organization will execute it, and follow up periodically to ensure that your strategic plan is still a living, breathing piece of your organization.

Myth: one size (or approach) fits all

Truth: out-of-the-box planning processes can, do, and must exist

It is common for businesses to follow a cookie-cutter approach to strategic planning. That is not always bad, but it comes with its own risks. Some businesses confuse strategic planning with business planning. The result is more of an annual budget than a strategic direction – two very different animals.

Every business organization has distinctive and unique characteristics which warrant distinctive and unique strategic planning. That means removing some of the typically included elements of the planning process and replacing them with activities that better leverage the knowledge, skill and capacity of the financial institution.

Myth: The company’s leadership team creates the strategic plan

Truth: Successful strategic plans includes buy-in from employees and outside sources

Read more about all of these myths in the April issue of my monthly e-newsletter. We provide statistics, challenges and expert advice from professionals in the strategic planning field. You’ll also find a link to an important free annual planning primer that will help your organization improve strategic planning.