Many organizations have gone through a strategic planning effort. Volunteer board members almost always tell us the effort reenergized them and given them a sharper focus of the direction they are headed. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends for most. Involving a professional facilitator that has gained a deep understanding around the organizations values is invaluable to the efficiency process and ultimate success in the sustainability for the desired outcomes.

Why does strategic planning fail to achieve the results that are desired?  Here are ten reasons:

  1. Strategic Planning needs a foundation of communication about ‘why” we need a plan.Plan
  2. The organization must be in alignment with its mission, respect for the organization, staff and each other before engaging in a planning process.
  3. Keep is short. A one to three page plan with clear objectives over a year’s period is sufficient
  4. How will you engage with the plan after it is done?
  5. Strategic planning really isn’t. Many “strategic planning” sessions are really short term planning sessions. Discussion relates to logistical coordination for the organization’s activities. Board members will say that “strategic planning never works for us.” Well, that’s because they didn’t really do it.
  6. Not enough time is spent. Often a board will allow only about a couple hours to strategic planning. There is no way the work can be done in that amount of time.
  7. Lack of specifics. The board spends so much time on brainstorming, they never get to the “how” part of the strategic planning effort. The board spends hours on crafting a mission statement, vision statement or set of strategic initiatives but stops there. There are no specific steps.
  8. Lack of accountability will doom a strategic plan. Over time, people involved in the planning process will cycle off the board and that’s where efforts to improve the organization stops – unless there is a built in process to ensure accountability.
  9. Lack of measurement.  Plans often fail because they never knew what success looked like.
  10. Do more research on the front end then analyze at set intervals using the same metrics.

It may seem redundant, yet it is critical to plan for your planning, so that month to month and year to year your organization is moving forward in a mindful way to measure results. It can be the difference between being an average organization and being a great one.


Scott Sadler, Certified Mastermind Executive Coach of Creative Conflict Solutions and Harvey Gail, MBA of Spire Management contributed to this article.

new      Harvey Gail

Scott Sadler               Harvey Gail