Small business strategic planningAs I read today’s SmartBrief On Leadership, I came across the results of their weekly poll. The survey question was “How closely do you think you will follow your strategic plan this year?” The results were thought provoking.

According to the poll:

We’ll generally follow the plan but expect a few major deviations   76.15%

We’ll follow it to the letter    11.62%

We may do a few things on the plan but generally ignore it and do something else   9.54%

We don’t follow it at all   2.68%

Is this happening in your small business too?

At the end of last year and the beginning of this year, many small business owners started thinking about what they wanted their business to accomplish in 2011. So, if we, like most small business owners, got the bones of our strategic plan put together. The three questions most associated with the strategic planning process are

1. Where are we now?

2. Where are we going?

3. How are we going to get there?

So you sat down and probably reviewed your organization’s overall mission, values or principles and what you envisioned for the year.  You probably did parts or all of a SWOT analysis. After this, you noted what big goal you’d love to celebrate on December 31st. More than likely, you identified what makes your organization special or even the specific advantage in the marketplace. You probably finished off with setting goals that will make these great aspirations reality.

So, if you went to all of this trouble, why wouldn’t you follow your plan?

There are a variety of reasons why people don’t follow their plans. For some companies, the strategic planning process was an exercise in lip service. For others, they scare themselves with their aspirations and shy away from making these dreams into reality. Sometimes things  happen (natural disasters, personal crises, major market shifts, etc) that make the plan irrelevant.

The strangest number in the poll above is 11.62%. Why do so few business leaders actually follow their strategic plan? You have to wonder what is really happening in the planning process. On the face of it, it seems like a colossal waste of time to go through the whole process and then relegate the plan to a shelf somewhere.

What’s the deal?

Why do you think strategic plans are not followed?

*For more information like this live, check out my no cost webinar, “Achieving the CEO Mindset For Small Business Success” Thursday, March 31st, 7 pm BST/2pm ET. For more information and to register, go to Programs