When Strategic Planning Fails


Strategic planning takes time, effort, and resources by an organization. While we know what makes the strategic planning process successful, it’s just as important to understand the causes and pitfalls to avoid during the planning and execution of a plan.

  1. Not Understanding Your Staff
    For a strategic plan to work, it’s critical to know your staff, how they work, and the culture of your organization. A strategic plan should have the input of the entire organization, not just the input of the leadership and the board. It is critical to understand what makes the individuals in your organization unique, and ensure your plan maximizes the positives of your organization’s culture.
  2. Lack of Communication
    Many times, organizations go through a strategic planning process and then forget to discuss employee expectations. The leader of the organization needs to provide clear communication to all employees about their roles and how each employee can help the plan succeed.
  3. Lack of Goal Setting
    A strategic plan is a long-term undertaking for an organization, usually encompassing 3-5 years. Implementing a series of smaller goals, both on the individual and team levels, along the course of the plan is equally important. The leaders and managers of the organization should review goals consistently, whether during staff meetings or in one-on-one reviews. Without consistent check-ins, the overall meaning of the plan could be forgotten.
  4. Lack of Flexibility
    As a result of the long-term nature of a strategic plan, it’s difficult to predict future events. It may become necessary to change course or alter the steps needed to accomplish the organization’s goals. Events from recessions, personnel absences, and other unpredictable changes within the community will make it critical to be flexibile with the plan and the steps necessary in accomplishing important goals. Without the willingness to change and adapt, a strategic plan is set up for failure.
  5. History
    Frequently, organizations go through a planning process only to have it be forgotten or to completely fail. Such failures can stay fresh in the minds of the staff, making them less than enthusiastic about executing a plan – especially if the organization is unwilling to change the goals and the planning process. Working with experts outside of the organization who understand how to best implement plans can be just what the organization needs for desired success.
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Categories: Fundraising & Philanthropy, News, Nonprofit, Strategic Planning

Author:pattonmcdowell

Patton McDowell & Associates is a consulting firm dedicated to helping nonprofits and charitable foundations achieve their goals. We maximize an organization’s resources and help it achieve strategic efficiency.

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