In our work with organizations across sectors and industries, we often see the need to highlight the critical distinction between strategic planning and strategy making. Along similar lines, a company’s strategy development process can often become unduly influenced by the latest disruptive planning tool (e.g., technology-driven simulations, data analytics, and/or other promised enhancements), which, if not held in check, can end up stifling rather than stimulating the identification and debate of real strategic options.

We know that effective planning processes must tap into the voices and experiences of influencers at all levels of the business, whose unique perspectives can be helpfully mined to inform strategy development efforts. This work is equally important to support implementation, as many strategy efforts fail without the thoughtful alignment and engagement of those who will be integral in their execution. Involving key leaders (informal and formal) in making the strategy greatly improves the chances of effective implementation.

Above all, what must be avoided in a strategic planning process is for the focus and energy to shift away from the actions to be taken and by whom to the document or planning process itself.

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