Taking the Very Long View in Strategic Planning

For a few years my firm has championed the idea that strategic planning efforts must take place over a long horizon.  By “long” I mean 20 to 30 years out.

It’s not an issue of individual time management, at first blush, as you can see from the article I wrote in the Jamaica Daily Gleaner: Taking the Very Long View in Strategic Planning.  (For more details about the approach and its application, see my colleague Amie Devero’s book – Powered by Principle.)

What I didn’t mention in the article, however, is that many strategic plans fail because of what I call “the last mile.”   In order for a plan to work, a number of things must happen in the daily working world of the employees that must implement it.

The first is that they must be able to “find the time.”  A strategy will get nowhere if those who must change their behavior in order to make it work are at the limit of their performance, and need an upgrade in their time management skills.  If they don’t know how to perform this kind of upgrade, the strategy is dead.

The second is that they must learn how to change their habits, practices and rituals in order to take the repetitive actions needed to give the strategy some momentum.  Most employees are weak in this area, and simply don’t know how to construct habit changing systems.  They simply nod their heads in faux agreement, and don’t even bother to try.

The results are the same — the strategy isn’t implemented, even if it’s brilliant.  The simple solution is to teach employees how to accomplish more, and to build this kind of activity into the roll-out of the plan.