5 most common mistakes companies make when building strategic planning

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The renowned Austrian thinker Peter Drucker, considered by many to be one of the fathers of modern management, in one of his famous quotes, once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Despite the years, the phrase remains more current than ever, especially in a scenario as unstable and volatile as the one experienced by the UK residents market. In this context and political-economic instability, prolonged crisis and uncertain future, strategic planning moves from a supporting role to a protagonist for those companies that manage to have the serenity and wisdom to think about the future, but act in the present.

There are numerous tools and models to build a good strategic plan, but they all depend on some basic points that, if neglected, can compromise the whole plan and lead companies to fail to achieve their goals.

Some common mistakes that need to be avoided in the plan construction process and help to ensure a more prosperous success, are:

  1. Lack of clarity in guidelines

The definition of where a company intends to be in the future, what its position in the market is, how it wants to be seen by customers, suppliers, partners, employees, position in relation to competitors and, above all, what is the importance of each point individually and collectively is something which is not always easy to define clearly. All executives seek shareholder return on investment, customer satisfaction, relevant position in the current market, etc., but few manage to really define guidelines and clear directions in which to follow.

A possible way to facilitate this definition with clarity can be obtained through a diagnosis of the organization in the macro context in which it operates, either via SWOT analysis, Porter's 5 forces, re-signification of identity (Mission, Vision and Values), 360° analysis , BCG matrix and many other frames will naturally lead you to a track, a course, a direction to be followed with a good level of clarity. The important thing is to choose a model and follow it to the end.

  1. Not thinking about a Plan B

When building a macro diagnosis, we look for a lot of internal and external information; and the more information we have, the more we work, the more we believe we are right and forget that uncertainty is the greatest of all certainties when working on the future. I've experienced cases where when we finish planning it is limited or outdated.

Bear in mind that models cannot, in any way, take away the flexibility and adaptability of the entire organization in the face of a constantly changing scenario. Plot different scenarios; create plans B, C and D; understanding the basic variables that can compromise the outlined guideline are some of the ways that can be used so that your planning is always up-to-date.

  1. Set goals that are disconnected from reality or unattainable

Assuming that there is a clear guideline, transforming this macro vision into specific objectives and tangible points is the new challenge. Commonly, we see cases in which the management team creates objectives without the correct analysis of the company's resources availability, involvement and consultation of key people in certain processes, measurement of the proposed challenge, real capacity to get where it is planned, availability of time and there you go. As a consequence, we have points that are not directly related to reality or that are impossible to reach.

Again, there are a number of models and tools available to be used to guide you in a path away from this trap, such as: 5W2H; Balance Score Card (BSC); PDCA (Plan Do Check Act); breakdown into levels (strategic, tactical and operational); Ishikawa diagram and the like. The important thing is to always ask yourself if the defined objective is tangible, quantifiable, represents an action and not a will, can be scaled over time, do we have enough resources and so on.

  1. Lack of definition of roles and responsibilities

Good strategic planning should involve covering the organization as a whole, however, without a good definition of roles and responsibilities, it is very easy for the whole project to fall into the “Let me leave it! ” and the whole skating plan, many work and some are left with the feeling that they have not left the place.

Many of the objectives cover more than one area of ​​the company, therefore more than an organizational manager, and only with a clarity of the role of each sector in the specific objective can we define the responsibilities of each person involved in the activity. Focusing on the actions to be carried out, what skills are needed to perform the task, what technical knowledge is needed, how much time will be spent, will help to find the roles, limits and individual and collective responsibilities.

  1. Not closely monitoring the strategic plan created

How do we know if or when we will reach our destination if we don't know where we are? The same applies to strategic planning as a whole. Success will depend on constant monitoring, minor corrections and route adjustments, review of intensity of energy effort, continuous alignment of people and resources, full awareness of time spent and missing for each activity and never losing sight of what we intend to achieve.

Listing KPIs (Key Performance Indicator), indicators and indexes, activity schedules, frequent reporting of results achieved, values ​​of goals and objectives, reference points in general, along with constant monitoring of all the work are the key to this point. All those involved need to be clear about whether we are achieving what we have proposed and, based on the follow-up, scale the necessary adjustments and route corrections.

The backbone of strategic planning consists of: guidelines, strategies, objectives, actions, control points and those responsible, if you always keep in mind when building the plan, the chances of errors are already greatly reduced. We are living in times of crisis in which the person who makes the fewest mistakes is embraced, because nowadays (if it ever was or will be different) it is absolutely impossible to get it right. Focus and get to work.

Gabriel L. da S. Dias Neto is a CFO with more than 20 years of experience in the financial sector in industry and banking.


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