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Getting it right?

One of the things I often get from discussions with executives about strategic planning is that attempts frequently get bogged down in the details.  Plans get discussed endlessly, but no clear decisions is made.

This kind of "non-plan" planning can be very dangerous.  A situation which was at first only "undefined" becomes clearly "muddled" and there is often a resistance to re-approach the subject for fear of getting pulled in deeper.

The answer to how to avoid this starts with the question, "Does the strategic plan need to be right?"  The answer to this may surprise you. 

While no one sets out to build a "wrong" plan, it turns out that the existence of a plan, even if imperfect, is often the "right" thing to get a team moving, testing solutions, and finding answers.  Motivation (the belief that we are on a winning path) is more important in the achievement of success in most endeavors than "correctness".  Thank about your own team experiences.  Without a clear sense of purpose and goal the energy to contribute dwindles.  Without that the team will fail, no matter how "correct" the plan.

Think of it this way, which of the following two options would be most successful to help insure that the NASA team could land a man on the moon within 10 years?  A) A complete and detailed project and engineering plan with every major issue resolved and documented or B) a speech by the President of the United States, committing the country, and it's pride, to the audacious goal of landing a man on the moon. 

Obviously, history tells us that Plan B was the one that worked.  It is tempting to think that this was only because Plan A was not available.  But the reality of many latter NASA projects (using the Plan A approach) was that they failed to achieve the greatness of a plan launched on purpose and motivation above "correctness".

Next time your team gets lost in correctness ask first, is this the right time for this? (a topic for later)   If so, determine that underling purpose for the endeavor and focus on how to agree on purpose, find a unifying vision for how to recognize success when you achieve it, and launch the plan with all the "correctness", or lack thereof, that you can easily document.

Momentum, not risk avoidance, is the goal of strategic planning in the high growth company.



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