top of page

Strategic Planning - Do It Yourself

Back when I was working in a senior position for a large corporation I was invited to “participate” in a strategic planning process.

A bunch of suited young MBA’s from a leading consultancy firm raided us, interviewed the management team, studied our books and our systems, went away for 3 months and then we were invited to a festive Senior Management meeting and were presented with our Vison, Mission, and 5 year Strategic Plan. In-between I learned that this exercise cost the company a few hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Three years on only one marginal initiative was to have been executed.

If you ever took part in a corporate strategic planning process you are probably not surprised by this. While doomsday statistics of 70%-90% strategic plans implementation failure rate is probably exaggerated the actual success rate is far from 100%, which begs the question of why, taking into consideration the high costs companies even bother.

I  will not attempt to answer this question. Instead I will claim that the reasons for a high rate of failure are also the why SME’s can and should create their own strategic plans without the help of “experts”:

  1. Cost - most SME’s can’t afford paying 5-6 figures amounts to consultants. A DIY job can get better results and does not cost anything (or very little if you choose to hire a facilitator). The high costs also mean that companies don’t tend to do this exercise frequently enough and in a fast-changing environment this simply doesn’t work. A short DIY strategic planning process is something you can do every year, if necessary.

  2. Commitment - the corporate approach of hiring consultants to create your plan means that the management team is not involved in the process other than as information providers. Since involvement begets commitment, lack thereof begets indifference. Getting the management team to create the plan themselves generates commitment, enthusiasm, cohesion and energy.

  3. Implementation - a typical strategic plan will stop short of creating a detailed execution plan. Without it, the plan may be a nice idea but not a practical solution. You don’t need external experts to create an execution plan - you know your company, your management team and your resources and you have a calendar. 

I will not argue the importance of a strategic plan. If you think you can get to where you want to be without knowing where that is and having a plan to get there - good luck to you.

But if you agree that a strategic plan is essential to your organisation’s success, get on with it. And if you are unsure you can run the process yourself, hire a facilitator - so long as they know how to manage an internal discussion rather than make decisions for you it doesn’t have to cost an unaffordable amount of money. 


bottom of page