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What’s the most dangerous mistake you can make when writing a strategic plan?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

What’s the most dangerous mistake you can make when writing a strategic plan?

  • Only pursuing small initiatives: 4%
  • Only pursuing huge initiatives: 3%
  • Only focusing on your core business and not new ones: 6%
  • Lacking a coherent theme or direction for initiatives: 35%
  • Pursuing too many initiatives at once: 52% 

Get direction and focus. Strategy is about saying “no” and clearly that’s a big challenge for many of you. 52% of you are chasing too many opportunities. I’d venture to guess not all of them are big or strategic. In a world of limited resources, every minute you spend on something small or distracting is a minute you’re taking away from the big and meaningful stuff. Prioritize and narrow your list of initiatives. The way to do that is through a solid strategic planning process that helps you avoid common strategic planning errors. Spend time setting a clear direction for your organization. Once you know your desired destination, it’s easier to say no to distracting initiatives that aren’t aligned with your strategic objectives. These two approaches will solve the big problems 87% of you have identified as plaguing your business.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”