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When Courageous Vision Hurts Your Organization

I’ve sat through dozens of strategic planning sessions and retreats. Time is spent conducting an environmental scan, working through a SWOT analysis, and brainstorming future possibilities for your organization or business. At the end of the session or retreat there is energy and excitement, maybe even applause for what’s been accomplished. A five-year course has been set. 

In many organizations, four years pass by, the strategic plan is pulled out and the team realizes most of the goals haven’t been met. In some cases, they seem further from the goal than when the plan was formed. The team begins to work on the next strategic plan believing this round will be different. 

Yet for most organizations it’s not different. The cycle is endlessly repeated. 

According to authors David Norton and Robert Kaplan, 90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategic plans successfully (The Balanced Scorecard). 

What happened? Where did the plan fail? Should strategic planning be abandoned? 

Several challenges occur. The board may not have adequately involved the leadership team in the strategic planning process, leaving them passionless about the next steps. The organization may not have established goals and accountability to achieve the plan. There may not be adequate funding to actualize the plan. The management team is already overwhelmed with their day-to-day tasks, finding it challenging to carve out time to spend on strategy. 

One of the significant challenges most organizations face, in realizing their strategic plan, is the size of the vision. The vision is simply too big. It’s too audacious, too courageous. 

You must be thinking you’ve read that wrong. Strategic planning sessions and retreats encourage you to dream big and accomplish more.

Facilitators tell us there are no wrong answers. They encourage us to move the organization forward courageously. 

I’ve participated in sessions where organizations determine they are going to pivot and offer a completely different product or service (that they have little to zero knowledge of), where they think their budget can be 10 times larger (with no income projection) or their staff will triple…all in 5 years. 

After the excitement dies down and the dust settles, often the strategic plan fails because it’s simply overwhelmingly vast.  

You might think the easiest solution is to take this audacious vision and break it into bite-sized goals. That’s a critical step in the process but not the next step. 

Identifying the Obstacles to Your Vision is Critical

After the brainstorming and dreaming is done and a courageous and audacious plan is emerging before your eyes, you need to pause to consider what obstacles stand in your way of achieving your dream. 

You want to state what the obstacle is and how it blocks you from achieving the vision you’ve cast. I’ve appreciated my training with ICA Associates and their Contradiction Workshop which assists you in not only identifying the obstacles you face but helps you to overcome them. 

The new strategic direction for your organization allows you to overcome the obstacles that prohibit you from accomplishing your vision so that your vision can be realized. As you overcome the obstacles you move forward courageously. 

Identifying those obstacles or blocks changes everything. You can now establish goals and a work plan to move forward. 

Strategic plans are pivotal to the health of every organization. COVID not only interrupted the strategic plan for many organizations…it decimated the plan. Organizations are poised to dream and move forward again. 

If your organization is ready to establish its new strategic plan, I’d be delighted to talk with you about how I can facilitate the process. DM me on LinkedIn, email me or set up a discovery call so we can courageously move your organization forward. 

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