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There is an inordinate amount of talk today amongst the professional groups on LinkedIn and the blogsters about strategic planning, mission, vision, values and so forth.

Many, many years ago, thinking it could be a valuable arrow in my quiver, I enrolled in training to become a certified examiner (not auditor) for companies who were attempting to get ISO qualified and / or certified. As part of my consulting practice, the pay was minimal but I thought it might lead to other work. It did and didn’t, but the experience turned out to be valuable anyway.

If you can imagine the scene: upon arrival at an assigned company I asked the receptionist, or who ever greeted my arrival, if the company had a quality, mission or related statement. They almost always said yes. Of course I then asked, “What is it?” The response was (if I got something other than a ‘deer in the headlights’ return look), “We will be the best or have good customer service, or something like that”, they would spew; like someone trying to make me believe they knew the mantra. I could tell they didn’t have a clue, but they admitted having heard the statement at some point in the past.

Now, before anyone says, well, that just the greeter; I can assure you that the question was posed many times during the visit and I can count on one hand the number of times anyone quoted it verbatim, including leadership and would have 4 fingers left over.

Quality, mission, vision, et al, statements are a tricky business. Unless there is ‘something’ that so completely permeates the business from top to bottom, the rest is just hyperbole. For me, since Strategic Planning is an oxymoron, I believe that a predetermined ‘Strategy’ supported by a proper documented business plan which clearly defines operational tactics (and more that is too lengthy to list here), and where every consideration or decision is made to further that Strategy, the company is like a passenger where every curve and bump in the road is a force on conditions as opposed to those who get in, buckle up and speed ahead in control of direction and conditions.

The message here; don’t attempt this at home, leave it to professionals to work in concert with your company’s leadership for strategy development and implementation. Choose not to use a pro? Keep it simple; just decide on a goal and create a plan to obtain it. Otherwise, don’t bother with this stuff! It’s really pretty, all framed and hanging on the president’s wall, but that’s all it does, hang on the wall.

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