Giddy up! Let’s go! Let’s get the plan going. C’mon, c’mon, c’mon now! Yes, some leaders treat the annual planning session like a cattle roundup with one thing in mind: the plan. But don’t expect them to give you a definition of what the plan might look like, who should be involved, or—God forbid—the vision that might be accomplished if you actually succeed. They relish the planning phase, as if it’s the be-all and end-all of strategic planning—in other words, they start “plannicking.”
Plannicking is a combination of planning and panicking because the leader doesn’t know what he or she is doing, and guess what? It shows. Plannicking is getting everyone all spun-up about the plan itself without ever bothering to answer the question: In service of what? It happens in about 90 percent of strategic planning sessions. Get your advisory board involved, read every business book, have nostalgia for the past, go with your gut, plan alone, and generally use every fad that relates to strategic planning you’ve ever heard of, and you’ll have a strategic plan that’s guaranteed to have the lifespan of a gnat.
In this section, you will learn what NOT to do during the planning phase. As a famous leader once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” But, through inept planning, having the wrong players on the bus and in the wrong seats will guarantee that you won’t accomplish a thing. You’ll end up with words on paper that mean nothing, not even to you.
You can’t fake the planning phase. Well, you can, but everyone knows you’re faking it. Like the emperor with no clothes whom everyone compliments for being dressed in the best garments, they KNOW you’re faking it. The team will dutifully carry out the plan—at least to your face—even when it’s bollocks, which is a face-plant of the worst kind because it has the leader’s name all over it.
So, buckle up, cowgirls and cowboys, and read a little about how NOT to round up your cattle as you start the planning phase, and you just might avoid the pitfalls of so many of your fellow leaders.