The primary mistake that organizations make in strategic planning is failing to fully engage their constituents to get buy in to the plan. “Getting buy in” too often takes on the meaning of, “I have told you what I want and what we will be doing” and then I assume because I have ‘communicated’ that to you, you are by definition ‘bought in.’ I write more extensively about this mistake in this blog post.
Other mistakes include a plan that is based on anecdotes rather than data as well as a plan that is not truly grounded in reality.
Anecdotes rather than data
How are you integrating reliable data into your process? When you are doing your scan of the external environment, are you just relying on the observations of those in the room at the planning retreat, or are you doing some searching for research on current trends in your field?
Think about asking 1-2 people working on your strategic plan to gather reports and research, summarize it and share it with the larger group. What data do you already have available about your organization? And how are you using it to inform your thinking? What data is missing? How can you gather it? Your up front data gathering with constituents that could include interviews, focus groups and/or surveys will also give you a wider and more grounded view. Be aware of not letting your thinking be swayed by the most recent member/constituent conversation you have had.
Pie in Sky Planning
Organizations usually look for ways to stretch themselves and set ambitious goals during a strategic planning process. But when it is going too far? When your strategic planning group gets caught up in grand visions, the plan can have little connection to reality. Have you considered what it will take to get from here to your vision? Does the plan just add new things? Have you made decisions about what you are going to stop? When your goals are so lofty or such a departure from what you are currently doing, the plan is likely to end up just talk.
Ground your thinking in research and data, create stretch goals that are also realistic to achieve. These leading practices will help ensure that your plan will be put into action rather than just sitting on the shelf.
Thinking of engaging in a strategic planning process with your organization and want to learn more? Get in touch with me for a complementary coaching session.
My passion is helping nonprofit organizations and associations have a greater mission impact.
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