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Starting Strong in Strategic Planning

It still seems common that many facilitators start strategic planning focused on the mission statement, and soon after to start brainstorming strategic goals.  While that approach often can be done in a half-day or full-day of fun and creative “planning,” in my opinion, it has many drawbacks.


I think most strategic planning researchers, educators, writers and practitioners would agree that the strategic thinking is the most important part of strategic planning.  While there’s probably different perspectives on what “strategic thinking” is, I’m sure that most would agree that it includes the process of taking a wide look outside and inside the organization and then deciding how best to position the organization to work toward its mission, as a result of that looking around.  I fail to see how focusing on exciting words in a mission statement and then brainstorming associated goals actually achieves that critically needed strategic thinking.


The word-smithing and brainstorming are based on a usually invalid assumption – the assumption that all of the knowledge and wisdom that are needed for strategic thinking are already in the minds of the planners.  Unless the planners have regularly been considering the overall strategic situation of the organization (rarely the case with very busy Board and staff members), then that assumption is an invalid one that can significantly cripple the value of strategic planning.  It can build a beautiful ladder – to the wrong roof.


What do you think?

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