This is the time of the year that most companies begin their strategic planning process.

While it’s fun to host and participate in an off-site, the end result sadly is often put on a shelf until next year.

Mostly the plan is a continuation of the last one, and mostly the plan calls for growth, usually growth that is based on internal expectations. And, unless the plan is translated into numbers and then becomes part of the budget, expectations are infrequently measured against actual outcome. No wonder the reality of strategic planning and the hope are often not aligned.

If you are interested in doing it differently this time… Chris Bradley of the McKinsey Consulting firm offers four practical suggestions to tackle the particular problem of bold forecasts and timid actions:

  1. Don’t hide the hairy back in the bottom drawer
  2. Calibrate your projected results to the outside view
  3. Build a momentum case
  4. Focus on moves, not promises

This short article Hockey Stick Dreams and Hairy Back Reality should be required reading for anyone who makes plans, or is charged with approving them.

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