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I’ve written a fair bit about strategy and planning for next year recently and hope you’ve found the posts useful. This week I’d like to look at 4 ways in which your strategy plans for next year could be derailed.

  1. It’s Not About Next Year’s Challenges

Unless your crystal ball is particularly effective and bright, you’ve built plans around fixing the problems you’ve encountered in this past year. Are these going to be the same this year?

For example, your sales were down. Was this due to pandemic pressures? Your team generally operating below par? Systems problems (hopefully now fixed) due to staff working from home?

You see the problem – last year’s problems cannot give rise to strategy. They can certainly cause you to react and, hopefully, fix the problems, but you cannot base strategy plans around them.

Strategy looks beyond problems – it’s about your BHAG, OMG and how you’re going to get there. It’s not reactive, but proactive. Sure, you need to adapt it as circumstances change – so there is a measure of reactivity to the process – but primarily it’s looking ahead, not backwards.

  1. It’s Based on Known Knowns and Current Knowledge

When making plans we tend to make assumptions based on the things we know about. For example, when the Model T Ford first made an entrance, carriage manufacturers still based their plans on horse-drawn vehicles and accessories as they simply could not conceive of a world without them. Few successfully transitioned.

This is the importance of really sitting together (be sure your board is driving this!) and brainstorming even seemingly outrageous ideas – somewhere among them will not just be the Known Unknowns, but the Unknown Unknowns, too, and these are where the opportunities for competitive advantage lie, if you can uncover them.

One thing is certain, though, the future is never as we imagine it will be. For example, in 2019 it was estimated that there would be a global shortage of more than 500 000 commercial pilots within the next few years. In 2020, many lost their jobs…

  1. It’s About (Great) Vision, Without Execution

This goes back to the BHAG thing. Many companies have a great vision and even document it. But without a roadmap to get there, it simply won’t happen.

Goals are vitally important – you have to set them! But equally important is outlining the steps to achieve them. So, having your strategic plan state that you’re going to double sales next year is great – it’s something to energise your team. But if you’ve not got plans for a way to achieve this –  staff, call rates, promotions, new products, etc., – the goal will almost certainly be missed, and missed by a significant margin.

Dream big, but then work out how you’re going to get there and build this into your plans for the year. The OMG approach helps a lot, but you need more. Build your OKR framework around the plans, too, to keep everyone focused.

  1. It’s Too Complex

Often, a company will try to assure the success of its strategic plans by detailing every step along the way. This not only makes the plans extremely long-winded and less likely to be gone through and so understood but allows no room for flexibility.

And, as we know, flexibility is key. Dwight Eisenhower put this into perspective when he said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

State the goals – long-term and for the year ahead – show the major steps of how these can be achieved, but leave the detail to those implementing things, allow them to adapt and use your OKR framework to keep them focused on the end goal.


Think about your plans in the context of these points and see if you need to make any adjustments for the new year. Wishing you every success!


#BusinessFitness #2022 #Board #GoalSetting #NewYear #Planning #ProblemSolving #Resilience #Strategy #VUCA


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