Why don’t groups do strategic planning

May 22, 2014

Filed under: Strategic Planning — jonathanpoisner @ 2:57 pm

Instead of thinking about all the reasons groups can benefit from strategic planning, a friend recently asked me: why do some groups fail to do strategic planning?

Here are the top reasons that have been shared with me.

1. Past planning processes are perceived as having failed to yield real benefits. This could be past planning by the organization in question or past planning by other organizations with which board members or staff have been involved.

2. They are too busy. Good planning takes time and some organizational leaders believe time taken up for strategic planning carries too high an opportunity cost.

3. Overconfidence. Some leaders are so confident of their ability to think through challenges on the fly that they just don’t see the benefit of thinking things through ahead of time.

4. Fractured leadership. Some organizational leaders are aware that they have deep schisms either on their board or between board and staff and feel like strategic planning might expose those schisms in an unhealthy way.

5. Not exciting. For some people, the thought of sitting in a room with others discussing strategy is worse than watching paint dry. They want to be “doers.”

For each of these, there are obviously rejoinders. But sometimes given where organizational leadership is, it may just be that it’s the wrong time or cast of characters to plan.

One lesson I’ve learned for certain: if the organization is doing planning to satisfy a funder, but doesn’t actually believe in the value of the planning process, the process will almost certainly fail.

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