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Seven Critical Strategic Planning Missteps to Avoid Now

The business landscape is littered with strategic plans that went nowhere. They sit on the proverbial shelf, many never even seeing the light of day. Shepherd Advisor’s core focus is working with leadership teams to build customized results-oriented growth strategy roadmaps. Adamantly steering clear of these seven silent and potent ‘strategy missteps’ goes a long way to ensuring a smoother and more successful course ahead.

The 7 Strategic Planning Growth Strategy Missteps to Avoid Now

1. Too little mid-management involvement – and buy in. In many companies, top executives build the strategy and then rely on managers to execute. Making critical strategy decisions without inputs and buy-in from key “doers” is asking for misunderstandings and resistance. It is better to open the strategy process to include key stakeholders across the firm. Participation fosters buy-in and buy-in is crucial for executional success.

2. Lack of relevant AND actionable intel. Relevancy is critical for strategic resiliency. Leaning on broad market research or market anecdotes typically leaves many gaps. Sound strategy requires a foundation of relevant market intelligence that is also actionable. Uncover and understand specific intel about your customers, your competitors, your value propositions, your competitive advantages, and the trends and dynamics that are impacting your business. Do this homework to anchor your strategy on a sound market-based foundation.

3. No winning rationale. Sometimes companies cannot tell us exactly, “This is why and how will we win.” Avoid the temptation to presume success. Figure it out. Without this clarity, others may hold back to ’wait and see’- and degrade your strategy’s actual chances for success.

4. Lack of commitment. Building a good strategy requires tradeoffs, tough choices, and a willingness to change. Strategic planning often falls short of its transformative potential when it is not given the energy, attention, and resources to do the digging and make the hard decisions.

5. Lack of executional detail. – A company’s strategy can be grounded in solid data, have a clear and logical rationale for winning, have leadership commitment, yet still falter because the strategy leaves out actionable details as to how will the strategy come to reality. It is as if strategy execution is simply assumed. But strategies do not execute by themselves. We must work out the details to drive execution – our goals, objectives, teams, KPIs, timelines, and resources to clearly state how different strategic initiatives fit together thus putting together the executional roadmap that drives strategy.

6. Lack of clear executional ownership. Strategy building is abstract, strategy execution is personal. Without specific individuals owning specific goals, objectives and activities, odds are the strategy will lose focus, direction, and energy. Why? Because unless they know, the team struggles to hold themselves accountable for getting it done.

7. Ignoring the real challenges. Effective strategic planning tackles real problems head on. It is often easier to do “strategy lite,” to focus on future success, state how to achieve it, and call the strategy done. However, this is also a recipe for strategic failure.

What is moving the business forward and what is holding it back? Dig in. Once the real challenges ahead are identified and prioritized, then the value of the strategic work becomes truly clear.

We build better strategies to create a better future. So, give strategy building the commitment worthy of its aims.

At Shepherd, we find repeatedly that the right strategy – well executed - can transform a company’s fortunes. As you plan for 2024, avoid these seven missteps and watch your strategic planning strengthen your team and improve its outcomes.


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