Avoid The Five Fatal Business Planning Mistakes That Sabotage Effectiveness

Great companies come from great products and execution. Those very seldom occur spontaneously. Rather, they are the result of smart people using the best methods to create a stellar performance.

Such an outcome relies on having a great strategic planning process that guides the company as it builds in excellence at all levels.   However, there are many pitfalls that needlessly hold back businesses from such progress.

Many well-intentioned business plans fail because of their complexity, obscurity, and difficulty of implementation. You can avoid all of these with the right guidance, systems, and approach. Here are the top causes of poor planning and sub-par results:

Fuzzy Vision

Lack of


Fuzzy vision, goals, objectives, unmeasurable outcomes, and unanticipated events.

Lack of a solid understanding of what is known, unknown, and desired.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra


The ability to clearly state objectives and define key results derails success.

You cannot hit the target you can’t see , understand, and define clearly.

business problems thruough rose colored galsses


with Reality

This is a failure to deal objectively with market trends, realities, available resources, and employee realities.

The process did not start with a solid base of facts and quantifiable information of the current situation.

“Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.” -by Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO of General Electric


Disappointment and only partial success. Grand plans become disconnected from both available skills and resources.

Unrealistic time-frames undercut progress and sap morale.

Strategy Not Strategic

Strategic Focus


Failing to identify the strategic goals that must be achieved causes the company to stumble from the start.  The corollary to this is they try to achieve so many initiatives they lose focus.

“If we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.” - Andy Grove, CEO, Founder of Intel


Dilution of impact on organization growth and failure as dates slip, results falter and enthusiasm wanes while needed resources do not materialize and leadership emphasis drifts.

No one responsibleAccountability


Diffused or confused implementation guidelines. No clearly defined leaders with both the responsibility and authority to achieve objectives.

“Where everyone is responsible, no one is really responsible.” -by Albert Bandura OC, Professor of Psychology, Stanford Univ.


Inaction. CYA. The Blame Game. When everyone is responsible, no one is.

Accountability gaps result in confusion, wasted time and energy.  This often results in a “search for the guilty” and recriminations.


Tracking off paceFaulty Tracking


Informal, non-existent, complicated, overly-detailed, manual, and difficult tracking and reporting systems mean no one has a clear vision of what is and is not being done.

It also means there is no mechanism for “righting the ship” when problems arise and course corrections needed.

“People don’t do what you expect but what you inspect.” - by Lou Gerstner, CEO and Chairman IBM


Drift, inattention  and surprises as there is no way to know what is being accomplished.  Lack of management attention on achievement of strategic goals.

“Smart people do dumb things. Operators react and sweat. Owners think and plan.  … Confusing activity with productivity is a major saboteur of business success. Just because you are sweating doesn’t mean it’s working.” – Keith J. Cunningham, American author, entrepreneur, and speaker


The State of Business Planning

Engaged teamsIn many companies, a budget is confused with a strategic business plan. And while that’s better than nothing it’s generally not the best way to purposefully build a great company. Other times, the planning is  just a general idea,  like “We plan to sell 10% more than last year.”  It is the same thing the buggy whip guys said a long long time ago as their businesses stagnated, resulting in failure.

As humans, our brains come with two processors and while amazingly agile, they don’t function perfectly.  The world is full of information and we’re all hardwired to ignore the familiar. That adaptation gave our ancestors the CPU cycles to spot the snake shape in the bush or the leopard’s eyes in the tree. It’s why we’re still here and is essential.

But it comes with a downside, we accept the familiar and look at a problem that is obvious and simply don’t see it because it has become familiar.  Our strategies and planning are only as good as our vision and ability to see problems and opportunities.  This blind spot has doomed many plans done by smart people.

“You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” - Eldridge Cleaver, political activist, writer

You can’t push a rope but you can pull it.  Many firms make the mistake of not developing buy-in by their teams during the planning process.

Business plans succeed when all feel it is in sync with the company’s vision, mission, and values.  The more participation you have in the process not only do you get better plans but also greater buy-in.  When it’s “Our Plan,” not “Their Plan,” people work hard to make it happen.

Unfortunately, there are still many companies where they fail to do this and their plans and their business suffer for it.

Finally, heft does not equate to increased usefulness.

As a practical matter, more bugs are likely to get crushed by the weight of three-ring-bound strategic plans than they are to generate celebration parties from internal predicted goal achievements.

Soon that handsome, ponderous tome is used as a doorstop…

There Is a Better Way

Strat planning groupWith the right business planning process, leaders and associates will buy in and focus on implementing the things which contribute to fulfilling all the goals in your plan.

We suggest the best plan is one defined on one single page, where  everyone has access, can review, and can be used as a guide to use their energy like crazy to make it happen.

Let’s talk about how you can accomplish make this happen.

Start with a process which leads to success

  • Clarity of your Mission, your Vision of what could be, your values and culture.
  • Clarity of where you are today, a deeper dive into your current business to identify the things where you excel and define areas that need attention.
  • Which uses tools to compensate for our blind spots and myopia.
  • Subscribes to the dictum “Less is More,” stripping out complexity and focusing on brevity, understandability and measurability in creating goals, objectives and tactics to accomplish each item. You’ve heard of the “One Page Business Plan?” It won’t happen by accident but the right process virtually guarantees it will be created.
  • Include a practical, easy to use reporting system and a dashboard where everyone can track progress against plan continually.

Plan the SMART way

Start with clarity - knowing where you are, where you are going and what current ground truth is about your companies strengths and weaknesses.

Then, identify those big steps which will lead directly to achieving your Vision. They  become  your goals.

SMART BoardNext, break down those big goals into smaller, practical steps that will result in team success.  Defining strategies and tactics that are:

  • Significant - the one think that can be done that, when achieved, will make a strategic impact
  • Measurable - using key performance indicators (KPI) to assess degree of achievement,
  • Achievable,
  • Realistic - can be delegated to responsible parties, and
  • Time bounded,

(sometimes referred to as  SMART goals) is the key to progression.  Also, the quality of the leadership among these teams is critical and can determine success or failure of the overall plan.

Track key result indicators as you go to avoid surprises. Look at where you are in achieving your key results with frequently updated flash progress reports.  These reports allow for the celebration of completion goals and the correction of actions when struggles arise.

We are here to help you with a business plan that becomes your roadmap to a terrific future.

Introducing VisionShop

The Most Revealing Look at Your Business and People Since You Started

That Delivers Significant and Actionable Information


VisionShop is our comprehensive management consulting and business planning process designed for companies just like yours. It is derived from a proven organizational dynamic model which gives you the deepest, most insightful and revealing insights since you started your business.

Comparison to 4800 companiesIt measures your organization and people by implementing a comprehensive evaluation of your organizational strategy, design and culture. 

Additionally, we compare your results to over 4,800 other organizations evaluated using the same measures, giving you unprecedented insight into how each key discipline stacks up against other firms.

We also ensure you have the right people in the right seats by determining each associate’s behavioral profile and motivational needs.

Taken together, this is often referred to as a SWOTT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats, Trends) audit.

Discover the VisionShop Approach to High Impact Planning in This Short Video

Are You Ready To Rewrite the Future for Your Company?

If the idea of having a short and easily understood living strategic plan appeals to you let’s chat.  We can show you how clarity, identification, quantification, one-page business plans and measurement can enhance your organization and help you accomplish your overall objectives.

Our Role

Our role is to ensure your goals are accomplished and dreams are realized by providing direction and clarity to your planning process to make goals sharp, measurable and achievable.

Additionally, we help you implement scorecards and measurements to track progress, while providing corrective actions when potholes attempt to derail your progress.

VisionShop - Your Foundation for Planning

A three-part assessment system is used to uncover ground truths about business operations and the characteristics and motivations of individuals in key roles in the company. It provides an in-depth look at both operational aspects and the human side of business.

  1. Enterprise EKG - an in-depth evaluation of 35 key disciplines within an organization at the:
  • VS Company AnalysisStrategic
  • Leadership and
  • Associate levels

This process evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization in accomplishing its goals and objectives.

  1. DISC - is a needs motivated, observable behavioral profiling system who’s analysis and understanding by members of the organization improve the quantity and quality of their communications.

DISC DIMENSIONSBy understanding the communications preferences and orientation of the four DISC styles, people get their points across,  see personality clashes diminish and become more persuasive.

  1. DISC Motivators - measures the “Seven Universal Dimensions of Motivation” that exist within each of us. Whereas DISC describes HOW someone will behave, Motivators reveals WHY.

7 MOTIVATORSBeing able to measure and understand both the HOW and WHY of human behavior is vital to build top-performing teams, optimize employee performance, inform hiring & selection decisions, resolve values-based sources of collaborative dysfunction, and develop self-aware leaders.