In a previous post we talked about Four Branding Myths. While we referenced Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and Elvis, we also “myth busted” a few common assumptions when it comes to branding.

The same holds true for strategic planning. There are many myths, half-truths and false assumptions when it comes doing strategic planning. It’s critical that executives don’t fall for these planning folk tales.

And just like the Myth Busters had to set us straight about whether or not wind alone can blow the feathers off a chicken, it’s time to bust a few myths when it comes to strategic planning.

Here are four strategic planning myths:


1. Strategic planning is a date on a calendar

The answer to the question, “When do you do strategic planning?” is “always.” There are times of the year when you are more focused on long-term issues. However, successful credit unions and banks do planning all year long.

The reality: strategic planning is a process, not a date on the calendar.


2. Strategic planning is something we can do ourselves

When I was an executive at a large financial institution there were years when we would do strategic planning internally and not use an outside facilitator. Even though we had a seasoned executive team, the sessions we used an external facilitator were a million times better than when we didn’t. There is something magical about having an outsider guide your discussions.

The reality: strategic planning requires outside help.


3. Strategic planning is about numbers

If you are spending more than 30 minutes reviewing your financial performance as part of your planning process, then you are diving way too much into analysis than strategy. As Ray Davis, author of Leading For Growth and CEO of Umpqua Bank says, “You cannot grow your business if all you are doing is worrying about the numbers.”

The reality: strategic planning is not a review of your financial statements.


4. Strategic planning is just a SWOT exercise

The classic “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats” exercise is THE most overused tool when conducting strategic planning. In fact, we encourage our clients to throw out the SWOT. Use other tools such as our trademarked Five Star Credit Union Analysis, the Myth of Excellence or anything that is fresh and new.

The reality: strategic planning is boring unless you bring new tools to the process.


Obviously, there are key aspects to strategic planning that are set dates, that you do yourself, that involve numbers and that look at your SWOT. However, to believe those steps or those parts are the keys to strategic planning is to believe in a strategic planning myth.