leadershipStrategic planning is a process that provides structure to move an organization toward higher levels of achievement in safety or other areas of interest. The most common challenges to strategic planning are:

Lack of consensus
Consensus-building promotes communication, participation, and collaboration. IF DONE PROPERLY it is a structured forum for airing conflicts, dealing with internal political struggles, and deciding on an issue with positive input from all. The result of the consensus-building process provides greater long-term results and by-in than a strategic plan developed by the lone employee behind closed doors.

Too ambitious
What happens when bright, highly-motivated, visionary people are charged to participate in strategic planning? One outcome is an over-abundance of ideas. Excessively ambitious plans tend to outstretch resources and become complicated in the implementation phase. They often have too many goals, including some that are unfeasible. Individuals become frustrated while trying to keep all the balls in the air. It is better to move five to ten projects forward versus trying to push a dump-truck of ideas uphill.

Lack of leadership
If the C- Suite (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.) does not support the initiative, it will fail. How do leaders contribute to the success of the safety strategic plan? Find a “safety champion” from the organization’s senior management team and keep her/him abreast of the progress. Strategic planning is about staying the course over time, in spite of detours caused by unforeseen circumstances. The “safety champion” will be your voice in senior-level discussions.

Lack of momentum in the short term
The planning process will create momentum, but if the process takes too long, those involved begin to lose their enthusiasm. During the planning process, discover some “quick-wins” that are important changes. Continuous communication of successes is critical to ensure others know about the progress made toward the goals. Momentum in the short-term conveys the message that the planning process is a serious undertaking and that the resulting strategic plan is a living document.