When Strategic Planning Meets Reality

Approximate Read Time: ~5 minutes

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Back to When Strategic Planning Meets Reality…

Last week we were in Texas to attend and observe a Teen & Parent Summit in Alice, lead Adaptive Strategy Planning™ in San Antonio, and reconnect and consult with our clients and colleagues in El Paso. It was a terrific week of working with some of the best people we know, eating some tasty TexMex food, listening to some amazing Tejano music in a live performance by Marisela Hernandez, and satisfying our need for sweets with great pastries from the oldest bakery in the state (which also happens to be a German bakery, which works well for a couple of guys named “Klaus”).

It was while we were leading the strategy planning session in San Antonio that we were reminded of an 1871 quote attributed to Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” (For an interesting but lengthy discussion of how this quote came to this form, check out this article at Quote Investigator®).

The good-humored folks in San Antonio “massaged” that quote with us to arrive at this one that informed and inspired our work together on their strategy plan:

“No strategic plan survives contact with reality.”

Now, why would we say that in the midst of doing strategic planning?

Two reasons.

First, it is true. The best strategic plans in the world cannot predict the future, only respond to it. When the future becomes reality, they have to be changed or shelved. You ever wonder how so many strategic plans came to sit on shelves gathering dust? Because as soon as they contacted reality, they were deemed unusable and immediately went to a shelf. When strategic plans cannot be adapted, they get shelved to be forgotten and die.

Second, because we weren’t doing “strategic planning”…we were doing “strategy planning.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with reference to von Molke the Elder, is quoted as saying “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Okay, so it was a trick question with regard to the second reason. Some people, and you may be among those, don’t differentiate between “strategic planning” and “strategy planning.” But we do.

As we wrote last week, we do “strategy planning” because we feel it more accurately describes why groups get together to plan. They are getting together to co-create a strategy or plan for moving forward toward positive change and greater resilience as an organization, group, or business. Doing “strategy planning” should be an inclusive, active, engaging, and, even, fun thing. To be “adaptive” is to be focused enough to stay on mission but flexible enough to adjust to reality.

Strategy planning is not something you do once and for all. Strategy planning is continuous and that is what makes it a priceless activity. Whether you like Ike (Eisenhower) or not, remember: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Give us a call to learn more about Adaptive Strategy Planning™ and download this additional information from our website.

Recording Update

We are re-recording the April 19th online seminar, Preparing for Controversy in the Fog of (Culture) War, this Friday, May 19th. We hope to have it up on the website and ready for viewing by the end of May. In the meantime, enjoy some of our Change Maker interviews on the Tenacious Change YouTube Channel.

In the meantime, enjoy some of our Change Maker interviews on the Tenacious Change YouTube Channel.

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