Common strategic planning issues for businesses and how to overcome them

by Carly Clyne | Nov 01, 2021

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Strategic change comes in many shapes and sizes for organisations, whether that be a new leadership style, or innovative product pivot, or diversification. A solid corporate strategy lays the groundwork for growth and development, but strategic planning issues can put this on hold. Understanding the importance of a corporate strategy is a no brainer; getting it right is the challenge.

Every organisation needs a strategic plan, it’s not simply a ‘nice to have’ but rather a must-have if the organisation is to succeed. In order to grow, develop and innovate, an organisation must narrow its vision. A strategic plan helps organisations to focus on the things that they are good at, however, failing to spot and eliminate issues in the strategic planning process will mean you won’t secure the results you want.

Strategic planning issues, such as limited resources and unsatisfactory stakeholder buy-in, will crush your strategy before it’s been implemented. Therefore, it’s essential to look out for the key red flags and take steps to improve your strategic planning process to give your business the best chance of success.

A huge 90% of organisations fail to effectively execute their strategic plans, according to Harvard Business School. It’s so important to get the strategic planning right, if not, this can lead to a lack of structure and leadership, weak lines of communication and a lack of objectives for employees. We’re going to walk you through the issues in strategic planning and how to overcome those issues and challenges.

How to spot common strategic planning issues

An organisation’s strategic issues are often the reason that a company decides to embark on the strategic planning process in the first place. Strategic issues can be caused by shifts in the market, supply chain issues, customer demand challenges, or even new market entrants. Some questions to think about:

  • What can we do to improve our costs and stay competitive?
  • How can we innovate?
  • How can we grow?
  • How can we diversify our revenue?

Think about the issues, opportunities, or marketing shifts that you care about. Once you’ve come up with those ideas it’s time to get ahead with the next step of the planning process.

What are the common causes of issues in strategic planning?

There are many reasons why strategic plans fail, we’ve shared some of these below:

The leadership team isn’t bought in.

If the leadership team doesn’t support the strategic planning process, the rest of your organisation isn’t going to either. Your leadership team needs to support and participate in the process, providing both resources and authority. Once the rest of the organisation has seen the buy-in at the top, they’ll likely understand and commit to the importance of strategic planning. 

Your process and strategy aren’t aligned

Your strategic planning process should always align with your corporate strategy, there’s no question about it. If parts of your process aren’t aligned with the strategy, remove or improve them to stay on track.

Communication is disjointed

Poor communication is one of the biggest reasons a strategic planning process breaks down. It’s important to centralise information and standardise how it’s handled as part of the planning process. Strategic planning software can help you to streamline your communication, this allows you to manage the whole process from a single system. 

There’s a lack of ownership

If you don’t assign an owner to each part of your strategy, it’s likely no one will take charge and make sure it gets done. You need to know who owns what, to make this a smoother process. When there’s no ownership this slows everything down and creates confusion. In an ideal world, you would assign a point of contact to drive the strategic planning process forward and be on top of key milestones. 

An unclear or inaccessible strategy

A 10-page document sitting on the desk of a CEO does not equate to a strategy. Your strategy should be a living document within the organization, with actionable roles within the plan. 

Overcoming strategic planning issues and challenges

The more you understand your organisation and the issues and challenges surrounding strategic planning, the easier you’ll be able to address them. Here, we talk about some ways to overcome strategic planning issues and challenges:

Provide leadership

In order to conduct strategic planning, you need the support of your leadership, this sends a strong signal of the level of importance of the process, which often improves the level of acceptance.

Communicate communicate and communicate

Communicate what you are going to do, why you are doing it, how people will be involved in the process, and give an idea of expected timelines. When you don’t communicate you run the risk of ambiguity and in the absence of information, people will make it up themselves. 

Manage the change process

Something we’re big on here at TBG is managing the change process. The development of the strategy is only the first step in the whole process. It is equally important to manage the change process for the implementation of your strategy. Effective change management will not eliminate all the concerns, but it will help keep them to a tolerable level and allow the organisation to continue without significant loss of productivity.

Where does TBG come in?

We do strategic planning differently. We use the OKR framework to take your strategic planning process to the next level. OKRs are the execution tool for your business strategy; they provide ambitious, short-term goals that will help you bring your strategic plan to life. This ensures you only allocate time and effort to the tasks that make the maximum impact. Ready to kickstart the strategic planning process? Contact us today for a free insight call.