Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rethinking strategic planning

Effective planning is an essential component of any worthwhile endeavor. But the traditional strategic plan is looking more and more archaic in the Internet Age. For some time now, respected business commentators like Tom Peters have been dissing strategic planning as too slow and too inflexible for many businesses that need to be able to dart around icebergs rather than slam into them.

Into the fray steps James F. Hollan, a C.E.O. of a non-profit association who questions all the time and effort that goes into plans that end up on a shelf or worse. Writing for Associations Now magazine, his "The Perils of Strategic Planning" no doubt will send a chill up the spine of every business executive and consultant that wrestles with these things.

For the Piñata Manager™, caught between navel-gazing executives and antsy employees, a crisp strategic plan can be the point of the spear that helps drive the operation forward. A bad one is a tome to be ignored, circumvented and, after a couple of drinks, mocked.

I'm not saying get rid of strategic plans. But spend some quiet time reading Mr. Hollan's Opus, and then ask yourself: Does our strategic plan articulate our future direction in a clear and compelling way? Are we nimble? Can we turn on a dime to take advantage of opportunities or avoid threats? Can every employee see their contribution somewhere in the strategic plan? How much did we pay our strategic planning consultant?

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