In his article, The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, Roger L. Martin, raised a number of issues and practical tips for business leaders with regard to this discipline.  I’ll leave you to read the article, but let me paraphrase, and abstract, the key points.

Comfort Traps to Avoid

  • Strategic Planning – Planning is easier than devising strategies, and hence it’s easy to just do planning work without thinking about the outcomes.
  • Cost-based Thinking – Cost is an easy lever to manage and observe change, but this aspect of your business could likely be insufficient for lasting improvements.
  • Self-referential Strategy Frameworks – Often managers will build strategies around the elements of the business they can control and this can often be re-enforced by common frameworks.

Better Practices – Escaping the Traps

  • Keep the strategy simple – Focus your strategies on areas of the business that are most significant and meaningful.
  • Recognize that strategy is not about perfection – There are too many variables when focusing on outcomes that are beyond control, so don’t worry about being perfect.  Set the strategy and measure results, then iterate.
  • Make the logic explicit – Capture your presumptions and assertions so that testing is traceable back to your thinking flawed or correct.  Afterwards, iteration is more viable.

As we’ve mentioned before in Chronicles, it’s imperative to keep your strategies simple and tied to outcomes.  In using Blueprint, it is more important to create a through-line of thought that can be observed rather than waiting for lightening to strike and give you the brilliant ephiphany.

Start today, focus your team, and then pivot as you learn.  It’s more than guessing, but it’s less than perfection.

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