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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • June 26, 2022
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Why Your Strategic Plan May Be the Biggest Road Block to Your Success 

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A version of this article first appeared in Inc.com

Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:

In recent articles, we've been looking at the impact of effective strategic planning in preparing the groundwork for success.

There are, however, some occasions when a strategic plan--regardless of how well-designed, and how capable the team is in executing it--is at best a distraction, and at worst, an obstacle to achieving the growth you want.

How so?

Well, think of it this way: You're playing football, you have the ball in your hands, and a gap appears in your opponent's defense.

Do you want to consult a playbook at that point?

Nope. You want to drive to the line.

Or you're relaxing at home and you hear a noise that alerts you to an intruder downstairs. Want to fire up Google and start researching a game plan?

Nope, you want to grab a phone and call 911.

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Sometimes the action required by an organization for success is so clear, so needed, that over-planning (indeed, sometimes, any planning) will simply get in the way.

Sometimes--not always, but often enough that you should be aware of the possibility--you need little more than an OMG to succeed:

An Over-arching Medium-term Goal; a single, easy-to-understand, oft-repeated mantra that succinctly and precisely encapsulates the one thing that, if achieved this year, will deliver the success and growth that you need.

- Perhaps you suffered debilitating turnover of key salespeople last year and your close ratios tumbled. Hiring and training new salespeople and getting those close ratios back up--that's your OMG.
- Maybe your biggest competitor is eating your lunch with a technological improvement on their product offering that you don't have. Matching (better yet, improving on) that technology is your OMG.
- Possibly legislative change has overwhelmed your back office operations, overloading you with bureaucracy that you've not yet become efficient at dealing with, skyrocketing your overheads. Installing systems and processes to overcome that new complexity is your OMG.

And your OMG need not be a negative one:

- Perhaps you see a new demographic market so enticing, so obviously right for you, that nothing else will have the same impact on next year's success than filling that niche--that's your OMG.
- Maybe you've recognized that investment in some proprietorial software could so revolutionize your warehousing and delivery activities that it would put an extra 3-5% to your bottom line--that's your OMG.
- Possibly there's a merger or acquisition on the horizon that would totally transform your standing in the marketplace--that's your OMG.

"Your Over-arching Medium-term Goal (OMG) succinctly and precisely encapsulates the one thing that, if achieved next year, will deliver the success and growth that you need." - Les McKeown, Founder and CEO, Predictable Success

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Note that we're not talking here about producing a punch list of remedial or reactive issues and calling it a strategic plan.

We're talking about spotting one thing--a single issue with such prominence and high potential impact on your success that it is imperative to deal with it--and making the efficient and effective resolution of that issue our mantra for this year in place of a strategic plan.

So, before you sign off on that binder with 17 appendices and pivot tables out the wazoo, ask yourself, is a knee-jerk focus on something called a 'strategic plan' actually taking your eyes off the one, over-arching medium-term goal that in itself would transform this business?

What About You? What's your Over-arching medium-term goal?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!


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  1. I agree that OMGs override the time to be spent on a strategic plan. In lieu of a planning cycle, I find small businesses need a reasoned conversation about what is required for an OMG and a reasoned discussion about funding and staffing. Too often OMGs are addressed with the slack resources available, which leads to missed opportunities.

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