Posts Tagged ‘strategic plans’

Dust Covered Strategic Plans Reveal Failed Leadership

The thick dust on most strategic plans is quite common.  Even though strategic plans are a valuable tool for SMB owners, executives and even salespeople, they continue to be filed on shelves collecting dust. Then executive leadership appears to be suddenly confused because results are not being achieved.

Now many SMBs don’t have these forward thinking documents and retreat to some isolated bogus marketing plan which usually ends up creating more misguided decisions resulting in more misdirection. Their excuse is usually “I don’t have time” or “I don’t need one.”

What these leaders fail to realize is the wisdom in the words of President Eisenhower “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”  The act of planning through intensive thinking provides a competitive advantage because the majority of the competition has also refused to engage in this important act of strategic planning.

What also happens is executive leadership looks for the quick fix to have some outside consulting firm do a survey or a “town hall” meeting. Having this input is part strategic planning process, but should not be the first step.

The first step in creating strategic plans is looking at the goals or results achieved.  Then internal assessments are undertaken. After the values and the vision statements are constructed, the mission statement is created along with the critical success factors or critical goal categories.  Unfortunately some in leadership roles jump to critical success factors that only create more misaligned actions and become an abdication excuse for leadership when results do not materialize.

Dust covered strategic plans reflect a lack of commitment to make real change, to reach higher and achieve what is necessary to stay a viable and thriving businesses. As one of my coaches David Herdlinger said:

“If you don’t have the time to do it right,

when will you have the time to do it over?”

Schedule a time to speak with Leanne about how strategic planning can help your SMB achieve its desired results by CLICKING HERE.



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When Planning Becomes Leadership Procrastination

Planning is essential to any endeavor be it a personal, professional or business one. By engaging in planning through the application of critical thinking skills and self leadership, resources are allocated in the most efficient and effective manner. Yet there comes a time to stop with the planning and take action.  Unfortunately what happens all too often is planning becomes leadership procrastination.

leadership-procrastinationThis turn of event is quite evident within larger organizations and especially government or not for profits.  How often do we read of leadership forming another committee to address a particular issue and plan in how to turn that usually negative issue around?

Here in Northwest IN, I have lost count of the committees formed during the last 20 years and the plans drawn up to address education, lack of qualified workers to economic growth.  Yet our region still lacks quality education based on graduation rates and post secondary attendance.  This continues to create a lack of qualified and skilled workers.  As to economic growth, last year the U.S. economy grew around 3.2%, Indiana at a higher rate of 4.7% and Northwest IN at a dismal rate of .3%.  (Source: IU Kelly School of Business Annual Round Table). So how is all that planning working for at least Northwest Indiana?

Here is where leadership continues through planning aka procrastination “to kick the can down the road.”  We will have the “dog and pony shows” of committees being formed recommendations being made and wait for the next group of leaders to take real action. Of course, the next group of real leaders are just the leaders in waiting trained by the existing leaders.

In business, leadership procrastination is one of the major obstacles to just getting things done.  How often have I heard “Yes it’s on my to do list (plan), but I need to take care of this stuff first.”  And the to do list continues to grow along with the procrastination.

Another symptom of leadership procrastination is consensus.  Have you heard or read about during a planning session of “We must get everyone on board. This will take time.”

Really?  What about finding those who don’t want to be on board, learning why and if it their reasons are personal and selfish, then get rid of them. Margaret Thatcher said “Consensus is the absence of leadership.”  She was right because authentic leaders know not everyone will agree.

Leadership procrastination hides behind planning and other false leadership behaviors.  Believe it or not, someone must take action even if it is the wrong action and requires a revision to the plan.  Things happen as they say that are beyond even the best thought out personal to strategic plans.

Ask yourself today are you really committed to taking action or are you hiding behind planning as inexcusable leadership procrastination?

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Never Ceasing Quest for a New Business Strategy

Yesterday, a dear friend and colleague, Dan Waldschmidt, shared that Internet searches for “business strategy” had increased 17% during the last month.  It would appear there are a lot of small business owners to Fortune 1000 executives in a quest to discover a new way of “deceiving their competition.”  In case you are curious, the word strategy comes from the Greek and means for a general to deceive his enemies.

Just like people interchangeably use the words wants and needs in sales respect to business growth, the terms strategy and tactics (strategy execution) are also equally exchanged. Unfortunately, these terms are quite different and possibly this is way so many are seeking a better solution to business growth in the forthcoming New Year.

Simply speaking strategy is a thinking process.  Tactics or strategy execution is a doing process.

With so many business executives so busy working IN their businesses, they fail to realize working ON their businesses does require time to think. The common excuse of “I don’t have time to think less alone plan” is probably one of the key reasons so many businesses fail within the first few years.

Failed Business Strategy Execution

Back in 2010, a Conference Board survey  revealed 60% of all strategies failed successful strategic execution.  Today, I am quite sure that percentage has not changed all that much.

The failure began because effective strategy execution requires identifying these five (5) elements (Galbraith’s 5 Star Model):


  1. Strategy*
  2. Structure
  3. Processes/Systems (Operations)*
  4. Rewards
  5. People*

Strategy, processes and people as noted with the asterisks are the key elements with structure and rewards often ignored and yet can create significant barriers to business strategy.


Crystal Clear Clarity Required

Another reason for failed business strategy is the absence of crystal clear clarity. Imagine an ice cube that you can see through on any six sides.  This is called crystal clear clarity.

Your business strategy should resemble an ice cube in that everyone can see your thought process and consequently your plan with crystal clear clarity.

No Unified, Written Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is still a “dirty phrase” for many in business.  Excuses of “strategic plans don’t work” to the “I don’t have time” still float in the air. Even if there is a written strategic plan, this plan is in many instances not unified with other departments and fails to recognize all elements as noted in the 5 Star Model.


Keeping the Plan Secret

Beyond the other failed reason for not having an executable business strategy, the existing or new strategy is not communicated to the people.  They are given only what is needed and hence cannot see the big picture or how one small miss step can create a cascade effect.  If you as the small business owner or top executive do not trust your people, then therein lies a huge barrier to having successful execution.

The Osmosis Factor

Successful execution of all business strategies requires consistent goal setting and goal achievement. Unfortunately, most people do not successfully achieve their own personal goals less alone business ones.

Goal setting and goal achievement though part of the business world is not taught within the K-16 educational process.  Instead there is a belief that through osmosis (standing next to those who are successful in consistently setting and achieving their goals) employees will learn how to consistently and successfully plan, set, execute and achieve goals.

Consistent goal setting and successful goal achievement is a step by step process embedded within business strategy.  Possibly before embarking on any strategic planning process or hunting for that next best business strategy, maybe it may make sense to adopt a proven goal setting process and then invest the dollars to educate and train all of your employees.  This investment is probably one of the best investments any small business to super large company can make.

Time for Honesty

Ask yourself with crystal clear honesty the following questions:

Why are you in this quest for a new business strategy? 

You may have the right  business strategy but the barriers just mentioned prevent that strategy from being consistently and successfully executed.

Are you seeking the quick fix?

The quick fix mentality is still alive and unfortunately starves everyone and everything including profits.

Are you one of the few and not one of the many?

Staying on top of any strategy less along a unified, written and well communicated strategic plan is time consuming.  The few who make such a commitment and stick with it are successful and they leave the many far behind.

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Simplify Strategic Planning With These 3 Critical Business Growth Goals

Strategic planning can be a very daunting task for the small business owners to the C Suite executives. This planning process is time consuming and yes necessary especially when looking to achieve business growth.  For without planning, business professionals are engaged in the role of Captain Wing It and consistent business growth goals are not achieved.


Within the strategic planning process, there are critical business growth goal categories or what some may call critical success factors.  Regardless of what you call these critical elements, their purpose is to be both necessary and sufficient to achieve business growth.

In the past these critical business growth categories ranged from three to five and varied for the clients. However recently when reviewing some past strategic plans I realized all could be placed into three (3) categories:

  • People
  • Process
  • Profit

By simplifying this part of the strategic planning process would save time while providing greater clarity to the client.  Then the more I revisited these strategic plans I recognized there were trends within the business growth goals that appeared to ignore or take for granted the necessary and sufficient criteria.

For example, culture was often ignored as was the intellectual capital residing within the enterprise. For many small businesses, the idea of research and development was for those big companies and yet they failed to recognize research and development was profit exploration.

Finally, I have found the rule of three works with our ability to remember and with speeding up execution. When we can organize items in our memories in groups of three (3), more energy can be devoted to execution instead of remembering.

President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.” Possibly if simplified the strategic planning process more people would hear, see and understand the value of Eisenhower’s words as they endeavor to achieve their business growth goals.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.


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