Have you seen this commercial about bad decisions people make in horror movies? It reminds me of the typical strategic planning process, where people KNOW it’s not going to be productive, yet they approach a kickoff strategic planning meeting the same way every year and think things will be different.

10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare

If you’re invited to a strategic planning meeting to prepare for next year or you are doing the one inviting to this type of meeting, look at the materials sent to participants.

Want to know in advance if the strategic planning process is going to be a nightmare?


See how many of the descriptions below apply to what’s being sent to participants to prepare for the strategic planning process:

  1. The organizer isn’t a strategic thinker
  2. People or whole areas of the company that SHOULD be included are absent from the invite list
  3. A bunch of blank pages were sent out for people to complete in advance about past performance and future strategies
  4. Invitees are expected to come up with ideas, issues, strategies, and/or forecasts outside their expertise that they are supposed to fit into complex templates and forms
  5. The first time anyone will see what everyone else is working on is when they show up at the first strategic planning meeting
  6. The meeting is too internally focused, with insufficient time to address customers, competitors, markets, and important external factors
  7. There are lots of presentations, but no time for the group to work collaboratively
  8. Not enough time is set aside (within the meeting or across the whole planning process) to create a plan that meaningfully (and not just incrementally) improves things
  9. The person leading the strategic planning meeting has too much authority over the participants and will sway their perspectives
  10. It’s not clear how decisions are going to be made about priorities and what to do for next year

Do any of these sound familiar?

I’m not sure how many of these descriptors completely tip the scales toward ensuring your strategic planning process is going to be a nightmare.

If more than four or five of them describe your upcoming strategic planning meeting, however, you can pretty much rest assured it’s going to be a nightmare.

Want to change your strategic planning process for the better?

Contact us (info@brainzooming.com or 816-509-5320).

There’s still time (yes, there is still time) to make a course correction and turn your strategic planning meeting into something productive and beneficial.

Think of us as the running car in the commercial, and you can leave all your horrors to the horror movies!

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3 Responses to “Strategic Planning – 10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare”

  1. Hi Mike – Question for you. From a consulting standpoint there are times when an engagement is approved by senior leadership and the day to day working team is offended as they see it as a slap in the face. In the course of project implementation a planning meeting must be conducted with the working team. The working staff want to see where the consulting firm will contribute advanced recommendations and tools above and beyond what they have done in the past. The working team wants to see where the consulting firm builds on what they have done in the past and they have little patience for project fundamentals required to start the project. These early planning meetings can be painful for the client working team and the consultant. What suggestions do you have for setting expectations for a successful meeting?

    • Mike Brown says:

      Vince –

      The situation you describe is where we start with identifying what the organization wants to achieve with its planning effort and doing some type of broad input to bring many more perspectives from within the organization to the strategy discussion, even if they won’t be directly involved. For the in-person side, I’d make sure you build in a way for the employee participants to be able to share their perspectives and talk out their concerns. The trick is creating an exercise that allows them to do that in a productive, positive way that contributes to the work and doesn’t tear things down.

  2. John Bennett says:

    I am particularly thinking in terms of #7, #8, and #9 as the worst offenders. But the full list is a good one.