What is the biggest mistake usually made in strategic planning?

The answer: Selecting too many strategic objectives to work on.

At McClaskey Excellence Institute, we are privileged to work with the leadership of organizations to conduct two-day strategic planning workshops. We have done this with just about every type of for profit and non-profit organizations. The most challenging and important part of these workshops is to help the leadership select the vital few 1-4 strategic objectives that are going to have the biggest impact in the direction they want to go. Leaders typically want to pick way too many objectives. This has a tendency to doom the implementation before it is even started.

It is not enough to just pick a few strategic objectives. These vital few strategic objectives must also be the right strategic objectives and must be relatively specific, so you’re not picking strategic objectives that cover a huge broad territory. For example, if you had just two strategic objectives but they were to increase revenue and reduce cost, that would be almost useless, since they are overly broad and cover almost everything you might choose to work on. The purpose of strategic objectives is to help you make decisions of where to put your resources and as importantly where you’re not going to put your resources. If you started with very broad strategies, like increase revenue and reduce cost, they could be useful if you use these as a starting point and refine them to the vital few specific strategic objectives you’re going to do to improve revenue and the vital few specific strategic objectives you are going to do to reduce cost.

Related McClaskey Blog: The World’s Greatest Planning Tool: The Pareto Principle

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