Strategic Planning

We are excited and optimistic about what the future holds for childcare and early education. However, it is a known reality the improbability of success without planning strategically.  The same capacity and devices provided to the most affluent industries should also be deployed with our most important resource…our children – and by default families. Our future will be sculpted by the success of our most valuable assets. They are our purpose and their success is our definitive mission.  We are more than passionate about assisting our clients in moving strategically towards this purpose into the future.

Each organization has a different take on strategic planning. Yet, regardless of the priorities, planning focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, and ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals. Providing our clients with objective strategies is our daily mission. Presenting targeted planning initiatives designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations is our duty. It is a professional accomplishment to help an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to improve its effectiveness. With a commitment to integrity and accountability, we take pride in being our client’s source for independent advice.

Here are 10 reasons why strategic plans fail. Avoid these traps and you’ll be closer to your goal of implementing a strategic plan that actually achieves results and improves your business. 1. Having a strategic plan simply for the plan's sake. Some organizations go through the motions of developing a plan simply because common sense says every good organization must have a plan. Don’t do this. Just like most everything in life, you get out of a plan what you put in. If you’re going to take the time to do it, do it right. 2. Not understanding the environment or focusing on results. Planning teams must pay attention to changes in the business environment, set meaningful priorities, and understand the need to pursue results. 3. Partial commitment. Grantees/directors/managers/boards must be fully committed and fully understand how a strategic plan can improve their enterprise. Without this knowledge, it’s tough to stay committed to the process. 4. Not having the right people involved. Those charged with executing the plan should be involved from the onset. Those involved in creating the plan will be committed to seeing it through execution. 5. Writing the plan and putting it on the shelf. This is as bad as not writing a plan at all. If a plan is to be an effective management tool, it must be used and reviewed continually. Unlike Twinkies or a fine vino, strategic plans don’t have a good shelf life. 6. Unwillingness or inability to change. Your company and your strategic plan must be nimble and able to adapt as market conditions change. 7. Having the wrong people in leadership positions. Management must be willing to make the tough decisions to ensure the right individuals are in the right leadership positions. The “right” individuals include those who will advocate for and champion the strategic plan and keep the company on track. 8. Ignoring marketplace reality, facts, and assumptions. Don’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to marketplace realities, and don’t discount potential problems because they have not had an immediate impact on your business yet. Plan in advance and you’ll be ready when the tide comes in. 9. No accountability or follow through. Be tough once the plan is developed and resources are committed and ensure there are consequences for not delivering on the strategy. 10. Unrealistic goals or lack of focus and resources. Strategic plans must be focused and include a manageable number of goals, objectives, and programs. Fewer and focused is better than numerous and nebulous. Also, be prepared to assign adequate resources to accomplish those goals and objectives outlined in the plan. By avoiding these pitfalls, you can create an effective planning process, build a realistic business direction for the future, and greatly improve the chances for successful implementation of your strategy.

1. The Plan Is Too Complex If you find you’re planning more than you’re executing, you’re probably overcomplicating the process. More often than not, the best strategic plan is also the simplest. Why? Because it makes the operational planning and implementation process easier. Operational plans essentially bring your strategic plan to life and map out the where’s, how’s, why’s and when’s required to ensure successful plan implementation. Here’s an example: One of the grantees we’re working with has a strategic objective to increase unrestricted revenue, which will then be directed towards funding expanded services and staff capacity. This grantee is using the BSA Group to build an operational plan around this strategic initiative. The CEO now has a system in place to help her and her senior leadership team operationalize and clearly outline the actions, resources, and key performance metrics needed to achieve this specific financial priority within his strategic plan. Remember, the idea is to make it from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way possible. Complicate the plan unnecessarily and you increase your odds of failure. Your goal is to streamline your strategic planning process and develop realistic operational plans that enable your success and empower your team. 2. The Plan Doesn’t Address And Resolve Current Problems Planning for the future can be exhilarating, but sometimes the present is the more pressing issue. Encourage your team to document the trouble spots in real-time as they move through their days. Take a long, hard look at the bottlenecks and obstacles that are bogging down your current system’s productivity and efficiency. Monitor the status of all your initiatives and regularly review the progress commentaries provided to you by your team. By coming to terms and working through your current problems first, you can better lay the groundwork for success with your new strategic initiatives now and in the future. 3. The Plan Is Actually Just A Budget If your planning session is little more than a discussion of how to fund current projects based on your existing resources, you’re not really breaking new strategic ground... You’re simply just updating the budget. Remember, strategic planning isn’t just a matter of pushing forward with the same old same old. Changes need to be made. New goals need to be set. Relevant priorities need to be established and communicated to the rest of your team. Planning sessions should be the jumping-off point for new and exciting ideas and opportunities. In addition, strategic planning involves identifying problems within the current strategic landscape. If certain processes or programs aren’t serving the greater good and moving you toward your strategic goals, adjustments need to be made in real-time to correct the problems. Sometimes, that means putting certain projects on hold or eliminating them completely. 4. The Plan Doesn’t Emphasize Accountability Too often, strategic plans are set in motion without the full commitment of everyone involved. Sure, Ricky may have gone through the motions during the meeting and given his supposed nod of approval, but if he’s not truly committed to making a change, the plan will fail. Before a plan is implemented, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page and willing to make the necessary changes for success and align with your strategic plan. This means holding everyone accountable, no matter what junior or senior position they hold. Everyone must pull their own weight. Accountability also indicates a special kind of responsibility when it comes to strategic and operational planning. The people doing the operational planning must understand from their teams what is actually required in the doing to ensure realistic timelines are being set and adequate resources are being directed to a strategic initiative to ensure its achievement. 5. A Reliance On Spreadsheets Is Slowing You Down Everyone knows how to use Excel, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete reporting and business intelligence solution. In fact, there are multiple issues with the static spreadsheet approach: >Manual spreadsheet creation wastes time and resources. >A lack of standardization leads to unnecessary errors. >There’s no means of tracking strategic plan implementation. >Unnecessary duplication can occur and document version control can get out of hand. >Spreadsheets aren’t easily integrated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. >Not everyone knows how to update the Excel templates, so you end up relying on one or two “office gurus." >Bad decisions are made and opportunities are missed due to a lack of real-time data. The best way to correct these issues is to move away from spreadsheets and instead choose an automation solution designed to enhance strategic planning, implementation, and reporting.