Is strategic planning dead? Or maybe a better question is, should it die? How many leaders have read a strategic plan, fallen asleep, woken up hoping you didn’t snore too loud, and then tried to get through it and fill your part of the boxes in? Strategic plans read like Ikea directions. You know they were written by smart people, but what how on earth is the average Joe supposed to interpret it?
We love to promote workplaces that involve the frontlines, get everyone involved, engage our employees…but has anyone ever been engaged by a strategic plan? I am sure they have been disengaged by one, but I doubt their engagement has increased.
When we spend too much time planning, and not enough time doing, we have a problem in our organizations. And that is my main frustration with strategic planning. Strategic plans vortex thousands of man hours into producing pretty documents and spreadsheets, and forget that someone still has to lead. If the leader is spending most of his time reading and producing those documents and spreadsheets, is he actually leading? If she is leading effectively, does she actually have time to care about the strategic plan itself?
My theory: Strategic planning is simply an invention to justify the existence of middle management, and not a useful tool for those doing the actual leading or for the guys at the bottom doing the real work.
If I’m wrong, please send me examples of its usefulness. I really want to hear about them. If I’m right, please save a few thousand trees and stop producing more plans no one will read. My future kids will thank you for caring so much about the environment.