The underlying causes of strategic planning problems are seldom technical deficiencies in the planning process or the analytical approaches used. Instead, they are human and administrative in nature. Typically, planning is a resource allocation process carried out in a corporate reward-punishment system that emphasizes the short term. Managers tend to focus on short-term issues with near-term financial consequences rather than on the longer-term issues that should be addressed by strategic planning.
Corporate planners typically work at a hectic pace with constant interruptions; short, verbal encounters; and great varieties of subject matter primarily dealing with current and ad hoc issues. Many key personnel are misinformed about strategic planning, and the information necessary to make it work is often unevenly distributed throughout the firm.
Finally, the communications necessary for successful planning are made difficult by the large number of people who must interact and by the politics, informal alliances, and the friendships among key managers that often lead to less-than-optimal strategic planning decisions for the firm as a whole and less than complete communication of these decisions.
By recognizing these traditional problems early on, the firm can take steps to dispel them where possible or to prevent them from undermining the strategic planning process.
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The list below shows the key critical success factors that will enable a great planning effort. In order to gauge where planning problems are likely to occur, you would grade the firm's strength and commitment in each of the key areas. The grade ranges from scores such as a low of "none" to a high of "extensive".
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