CHAPTER 5Trash the Calendar: A Strategic Planning Schedule Is Largely a Waste of Time

Have you ever heard this in your organization? “We had such a great strategy. It was brilliant. We just couldn't get it to work for us.” We hear that all the time. As we reflect on our own careers, this is probably the most common complaint we hear from companies when they undertake strategy work. They just couldn't make it work at the end. People often put this off as the difference between strategy and execution.

To figure out what the problem is, we have to go back to how the strategy was developed – and that's rooted in the planning schedule. Most organizations do something like the following. They task a bunch of (supposedly) smart people to go figure out what the company should do. Those smart people go off somewhere (usually off‐site) and study a bunch of data and come back with an answer. And most of the time, everyone agrees with just how smart the strategy is and collectively decides to pursue it.

Then they turn to someone in the room, usually not one of the people who figured out the strategy, and say, “Go execute this.”

And that person throws up just a little bit in his or her mouth.

Well, maybe it's not quite that bad, but it's not far from the truth. We would make the following observations about how strategic planning is broadly done:

  • There is a season for planning.
  • There are typically templates and/or a set process.
  • Strategic planning is deeply oriented around meeting a financial ...

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