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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Symptoms of Defective Strategic Planning

To be successful, organizations need to ensure that their projects and project outcomes support their strategic goals. Poor strategic planning leads to failed projects and people working on projects that add no value to the organization’s bottom line.

Lately I have been interested in learning more about Strategic Planning and the role it plays in the success or failure of projects. I found the text below in the book, Advanced Project Portfolio Management and the PMO– by Gerald I. Kendall, PMP and Steven C. Rollins, PMP. The book is an excellent resource for the seasoned project manager looking to move his or her Project Management Office to the next level.

Symptoms of Defective Strategic Planning (pg. 73)

Project and resource managers often fight over resources. The organization’s arteries are clogged with too much work.

Priorities of projects frequently change, with resources reassigned.

Senior managers have the authority to unilaterally approve and release projects

Projects are released as soon as approved by a senior manager, irrespective of the availability of the resources to do the work

Senior management frequently complains about how long it takes to implement change

Even when a strategic idea is implemented, the company sometimes does not achieve major or expected improvement

There is no comprehensive document or portfolio that links all of the organization’s projects to the goals and the strategic plan

There is significant turnover at the senior management level, right up through the president

The strategic plan is presented as a list of ideas or initiatives. There is no attempt to validate if those initiatives are sufficient by themselves to meet the organization’s goals. The cause-effect logic tying those ideas and the resulting effects to the goals of the organization is absent

The list of ideas in the strategic plan is not sequenced. Therefore, each executive assumes that he or she must try to implement all ideas simultaneously, and that his or her functional initiative must be the top priority

The book goes on to talk about some of the problems that executives face when creating strategic plans. I have summarized some of the information below.

Root Problems of Strategic Planning Processes (pg. 75)

Executives don’t speak the same language. They tend to view the organization through the eyes of their experience and silo. They don’t understand the organization as a whole.

The organization has measurements and policies that are silo-oriented.

Executives lack the skill to build a strategy that has the commitment of the entire senior management team, meets the goals of the organization, and can be implemented with current or planned resources

Strategies ignore internal systems that are out of control. When executives attempt to improve something before bringing it under control, they often throw the entire system into chaos.

Closing Thoughts

Many organizations I have worked for experience the challenges noted above. As project managers we know that poor or ineffective planning can lead to failed projects. The challenges I currently face in the workplace can in many instances be tied back to the lack of an effective or poorly communicated strategic plan.

I really could use some feedback on this subject. I’m not an expert in this area and always welcome the e-mails I receive that offer additional information.

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