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I recently facilitated a strategic planning session involving three teams tasked with the job of creating a project plan. While two of the teams huddled and debated, the third tackled the exercise with confidence and focus, finishing a full 45 minutes ahead of the others. (It then, in the spirit of competitiveness, proceeded to rib the other teams about their tortoise-like progress.)
Let’s face it: many strategic plans are a collection of lengthy, meaningless and often-grandiose statements about mission and vision. Some can be uncomfortable to read aloud; others can be downright cringe-worthy. Indeed, some organizations spend precious time creating BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) – also known as elaborate declarations of hope – instead of clear, direction-setting statements. Not surprisingly, metrics of success are unlikely to be found in these types of plans, and confusion about where the organization is really going abounds.
The answer to the question depends on who is being asked. The results of a major study of 1000 companies, government agencies and not-for-profits in over 50 countries, reported in Harvard Business, were rather shocking……well at least to some. Employees at 60% of those companies rated their organizations as weak when it came to turning strategic intent into results. You are not alone! When they were asked if they agreed with the following statement “Important strategic and operational decisions are quickly translated into action”, the majority said no. You are not alone. 25% of those surveyed came from the executive ranks, traditionally the architects of the plans! Are you one of them?