The typical explanation is that your vision is “where you’re going” and your strategic plan is “how you’ll get there.” Lack of clarity in either or both areas creates all sorts of problems for most organizations. Here are the signs that reveal when you can’t afford to put off your vision and strategic plan work any longer.
1) Fire Drills Of The Day – Some organizations just naturally have a higher rate of interruptions and crises. However, a good strategy will help you get ahead of the chaos. Analyze the root causes of your particular problems. Include the solutions to these problems in your strategic plan. Implement those solutions to prevent the fire drills and boost productivity.
2) Financial Frustrations – There are multiple factors that create financial challenges. When those challenges extend beyond a temporary phase and become a way of life – beware. Unless you’re part of a unique, dying market, you should be able to plan your way out. It may take longer than you’d like. You’ll probably have to get creative. And you’ll definitely have to do things differently – but it can be done.
3) Chasing “Whims” – Desperate organizations are more likely to rely on the “next great thing” to solve all their problems. They’re also more likely to start several, unrelated actions that don’t provide any synergy or real direction. This pulls the staff in conflicting directions, creating inefficiencies and ill-will. Strategic planning should tie everything together in one direction. Your preparation and focus can set the stage for unexpected opportunities. Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Don’t wait for a windfall – put in the work.
4) Focus On The Insignificant – When the leadership team has no stated direction or goals, it’s amazing how anything and everything becomes important. Discussions and meetings quickly digress to things as simple as paint colors, social outings, or gossip. Strategic planning provides the focus to enable progress on the real issues.
5) Endless Debates – Along with the lack of perspective, comes a lack of urgency. Since no one is clear on direction and priorities, debates become more and more prevalent. Time is wasted – and it’s accepted – because no one considers the true priorities that are slipping. Strategic planning changes the conversation.
6) Blaming – In this struggling environment and culture, there is a lot of failure. That usually leads to finger pointing and the blame game. Accountability drops. This eventually infects the entire organization. At best, passing blame may make someone feel better at that moment. At worst, this behavior only creates more ill-will and bad history. It then becomes even harder to work your way out of it. Teamwork suffers greatly. People stop talking and stop trying.
7) Disengaged Staff – The above scenarios lead to extreme frustration. Good employees leave. The ones who stay just figure out how to cope. They may forget how to contribute above the normal routine. Productivity and thought leadership suffer.
8) Stakeholder Complaints, Turnover, And Defections – When things get this bad, it’s hard for an organization to hide it. Customers, employees, partners, and suppliers can tell when you have your act together and when you don’t. They aren’t afraid to voice their complaints or “vote with their feet” by leaving. These warning signs are the most serious and can cause the most damage.
The organizations who struggle the most with focus are the ones most likely NOT to have a vision & strategic plan. No matter what your perceived roadblocks are for creating a plan, it’s time to work through them. Your survival may depend on it.