The Demise of Strategic Planning: How to Face The Future of Strategic Agility


“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

If you listen to the experts, strategic planning is dead – at least in the traditional sense. For years, strategic planning centered on defining and setting into concrete long-term strategy to meet the goals that would take our business to the next level.  Yet as far back at the 90s, strategic thought leaders have predicted the death of planning.

It’s fair to say the same criticism raised back then still rings true today: strategic planning is too rigid and simplistic. Strategic planning of the past represented a list of dreams. It failed because of its inability to predict the future, which inevitably led to its obsolescence. The new reigning ruler in strategy is focused on execution and flexibility – a responsive growth strategy.

Be Open To Change

Change is more than changing your organization, it is also accepting the change in the industry around you. Simply making a plan and sticking to it will have you stuck in the past. Business economies are moving faster than ever, and new technologies have put planning on the lightning fast track. By this time next year, plans set in stone today could be irrelevant. Your structure, your resources and your tools may very well be different by the end of 2017 – and certainly five years from now.

Leaders who are open to embracing new methods always run the risk of failure, but the chance to succeed is even stronger. The modern approach to business strategy means choosing a direction, testing it and viewing strategic initiatives with the understanding that you are experimenting your way to success.

When Planning Goes Out The Window

So what can you focus on in a world where nothing stays the same? The smartest leaders will put their energy into their team and their culture. A great team and great company culture not only incubates innovative ideas, but it breeds the foundation to execute them as well. With the right talent in place, it is much easier to adapt to the ever changing industry landscape.

Even with a strong company environment, you will always come back to strategy. The team can’t be expected to run on gut instinct and reactivity. In this case, strategic planning becomes a shared, rational direction rather than a rigid rule book. Strategic planning should be structured in such a way that it in encourages the team to look up from their playbook and out toward the future.

Reaching New Levels Of Strategic Agility

For more than a decade organizations have been hoping for the death of strategic planning – wanting to be free from dusty notebooks and binders left on shelves. We agree that the old school methods of strategy planning no longer work, but we’d argue against the idea that strat planning is dying out altogether. Instead, we believe better tools are leading toward an evolution.

StrategyBlocks Metrics Zone, for example, ensures improved execution, efficiency and greater levels of business success. More importantly, Metrics Zone allows for the agility the binder-laden plans of the past could never hope to achieve.

As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” As with most modern business practices, strategy planning will really ever die, it will simply reinvent itself.